This one-of-a-kind photo book offers evocative portraits of New York bars after closing time.
Nearly every day, Daniel Root sets out before sunrise to wander the streets of Manhattan with his camera. In those comparatively quiet hours, the entire city wears a different face, but Root is particularly fascinated by the scenes to be glimpsed through the windows of its bars. Empty of patrons and illuminated by an odd mix of artificial lights—neon beer ads, red EXIT signs, a single bulb above the cash register—they present a more hushed and mysterious aspect than in the busy evening hours. Nonetheless, each one—whether a dive bar, a sports bar, or a restaurant bar—still conveys an individual character, a distinct personality.
New York Bars at Dawn presents some two hundred of Root’s most compelling bar portraits, ranging from well-known establishments like Balthazar, McSorley’s, and the Stonewall Inn to nameless dives and an American Legion post. A foreword by Rosie Schaap, author of Drinking with Men, shows us just how much Root’s photographs reveal about bar culture, and an afterword by art historian Suzaan Boettger examines their aesthetic qualities. This will be an essential volume for anyone with an interest in nightlife, interiors, or urban photography.
About the Author
Daniel Root is a fine art photographer and a principal in the design firm The Root Group. His predawn photographs of Manhattan have attracted a devoted following among bartenders and other night shift workers, and have been featured on NY1. Root lives on the Lower East Side and is a very early riser.
Rosie Schaap is the author of Drinking with Men and Becoming a Sommelier, and a frequent contributor to the New York Times.
Root’s photos of New York bars at dawn are a perfect blend of beauty and
melancholia. Everything about them is just right. — Roz Chast
Upon seeing Daniel Root’s photographs of Manhattan’s downtown bars, I was immediately taken by the light. Through his photographs, Daniel reveals each space as a container for light. The beautiful intersection of saturated colorful lights becomes a tapestry that fills and is faceted by the architectural details of each bar, making a magical space to be activated and a stage for our daily human dramas to play out. — Kiki Smith
I’ve always said the very best bars are inviting, whether packed or empty. Daniel Root’s amazing set of images takes you to a bar netherworld that few get to see. These photos were taken before dawn, after closing, after the porters have been there to clean up and restock the bar, before the managers come back to check last night’s register ring. It’s a part of every single bar, but one that mostly goes unseen. — Eric “Roscoe” Ambel, guitarist, producer, and former owner of the Lakeside Lounge in NYC