E.L.Doctorow, introducing Ric Burns’ New York: A Documentary

If you imagine an ordinary moment at an intersection in New York City, and there is a pause because there is a streetlight, and some people are stopped and others in motion, and some cars are stopped and others in motion; if you were to put that into film terms as a “freeze frame” and hold everything for a second, you would realize that there’s a universe there of totally disparate intentions, everybody going about his or her business in the silence of their own minds, with everybody else and the street and the time of day and the architecture and the quality of the light and the nature of the weather as a kind of background or field for the individual consciousness and the drama that it is making for itself at that moment, and you think about that, that’s what happens in the city, in that somehow the city can embrace and accept and accommodate all that disparate intention, at one and the same time, not only on that corner, but on thousands of corners .

— E.L.Doctorow, introducing Ric Burns’ New York: A Documentary