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