Crossing the BLVD: strangers, neighbors, aliens in a new America is a 400 page, four color book that portrays the lives of new immigrants and refugees who live in the most ethnically diverse locality in the United States—the borough of Queens, in the city of New York. For three years, writer and artist Warren Lehrer and actress and oral historian Judith Sloan traveled the world by trekking the streets and neighborhoods of their home borough in search of migration stories, culture and soul. This book documents some of the many people and stories they encountered along the way.
First person narratives, crafted from interviews and storytelling workshops, are illuminated by Lehrer’s photographic portraits of the subjects alongside reproductions of the objects they have carried with them from home to home. The Talmudic structure of the book juxtaposes multiple perspectives: neighbors who came from opposite ends of the earth, intergenerational points of view within families, teammates, classmates, friends, enemies, and co-workers. Narratives are annotated by Lehrer/Sloan’s observations, as well as historical perspectives on the countries of origin, changes in U.S. foreign/immigration policies, and other contextual matter. In five movements, the book features the voices of 79 individuals as they reflect on the good, the ugly, and the unexpected in their stories of crossing oceans, borders, wars, economic hardship, and cultural divides. Collectively, the stories, images and sounds of Crossing the BLVD serve as a magnifying glass for the future of America.
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“Immigrant life in Queens, as told in the intimate, rich, comic, ironic and sad stories so often seen but not heard in America’s big cities.” The Washington Post
“Behind the drab storefronts and nondescript homes that define the borough, Sloan and Lehrer discover a soulful place teaming with immigrants from Mexico to Australia whose stories unfold in a kaleidoscope of color…” CNN
“Crossing the BLVD is a powerful social record… Most of the subjects live in Queens, but their stories resonate far beyond the borders of this multicultural New York borough. What often gets lost in the national debate on immigration is the human dimension, an understanding of the lives of those people who give up everything to come here. Crossing the BLVD lets them tell their stories… We see the subjects’ faces in the photographs, hear their voices, and enter into their lives through cherished mementos they have carried from home to home… Extraordinary stories… a living work of art.” The New York Times
“I have never seen a book like this. [Crossing the BLVD is] a remarkably beautiful, lovingly put together example of bottom-up journalism.” Amy Goodman, Anchor and Executive Producer Democracy Now!
Winner 2004 Brendan Gill Prize “A celebratory chronicle of the immigrant experience in New York, Crossing the BLVD is a Whitmanesque book that reveals a staggering array of humanity… [it] chronicles life in Gotham in both its despair and boundless promise. Chosen for its ability to convey the inspired resiliency of the myriad communities that contribute to the city’s dynamism.”The Municipal Art Society of NY. The Brendan Gill prize is awarded annually to the creator of a book, essay, poem, lyric, song, composition, play, painting, sculpture, landscape or any other work of art which best captures the energy and spirit of New York.
Crossing the BLVD is used as a text in college courses from oral history and sociology, to documentary, immigration, cultural, ethnic, American, and women’s studies, to immigration and civil rights law, to American history, globalization, freshman writing, and as a common reader. The book is also used in high schools and in ESL classes, and even as part of training kits for interns at urban hospitals.
Crossing The BLVD: strangers, neighbors, aliens in a new America Written by Warren Lehrer & Judith Sloan, Designed by Warren Lehrer 2003, W.W. Norton Inc. New York/London ISBN-10: 0393324664 ISBN-13: 978-0393324662 6.5”x9.75”x400 pages. Four colors on acid-free paper. Hardcover and Paperback.