Michael Schwartz was an award-winning New York City photojournalist born in the Bronx in 1944. His work appeared regularly in the New York Daily News and the New York Post. He photographed police officers working in the Bronx, the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001 and the aftermath, and children with guns on the streets of Belfast during the Northern Irish Troubles. Boston College and the Brooklyn Museum are now the custodians of his Irish photos and the Library of Congress has his work on 9/11. This past summer, his colleague and friend, videographer Ardina Seward, and his sister Sue Ashley generously donated his Bronxpolicing photos and some 9/11 prints to the Library’s special collections. 

Schwartz got close to his subjects, showing officers working the streets in plain clothes and in uniform. He shows us an officer at the foot of a fire escape reaching for a crying child dangling from the hand of a firefighter. We see officers huddled behind a van taking cover. A man perched on the edge of a roof. A plainclothes officer pointing a gun at a car. People lying on the ground beside a car. Schwartz’s photos capture and hold moments of great tension; the strain is palpable. These photos speak to us across decades, recording law enforcement activities in the 1980s before every passerby and participant held cameras. It is a striking collection, and we are grateful to Ms.Seward and Mrs. Ashley for choosing our archives as their forever home.

To make an appointment to see this or any other of our Special Collections, email libspcoll@jjay.cuny.edu.

--Ellen Sexton