Gregory J. Peterson : New York stilled life

portrait of a city in lockdown


Mar 14, 2023 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM


Smith library


Salmagundi Library Committee


Open to the public; up to 30 seats
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$15 | General admission
FREE | Salmagundi Club members with promo code
The member-only promo code is sent in an email to all members, and can also be requested by contacting
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About the Event

Join Gregory Peterson as he discusses his book of photography.

“With this book I invite you to explore the extraordinary, arresting beauty of the City of New York as it appeared during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in 2020. Some may find it curious for a person to live through times of panic, desperation, boredom, struggle, heroism, and loss, and manage to focus on beauty. But being in the eye of the beholder, beauty is what I beheld, in all its surreal grandeur. This photo essay is meant to document and preserve the astonishing views I was fortunate to witness.”

About the Book

New York Stilled Life: Portrait of a City in Lockdown, Photographs by Gregory J. Peterson

Mid-March 2020: Native New Yorker Gregory J. Peterson is on an early evening walk in his neighborhood on the Upper West Side of Manhattan when the unthinkable happens. The 24-hour city shuts down to protect its citizens from an invisible, lethal novel coronavirus raging through it. Manhattan’s iconic public spaces are now devoid of people. Starkly silent, the city is stilled, as no one had ever seen it before.

Traveling by foot and bike to avoid contagion, Peterson embarked on a personal journey to document a momentous point in time in the city where he was born and raised. He took more than 400 photographs of over 200 locations in the city through the spring and summer of 2020 to capture its beauty when no one was there. Using his iPhone 11, he photographed landmarks that now looked almost surreal without people―the United Nations Secretariat with no traffic, visitors, or flags, 42nd Street in front of Grand Central Terminal without a person or even a car in sight, and storied neighborhoods famous for their shops, restaurants, and art galleries, now turned into enigmatic stage sets.

Foreword by Barry Bergdoll, head of Art History at Columbia University and former curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA

About the Speaker

Gregory J. Peterson is a corporate lawyer, passionate amateur photographer, and noted art collector. A native, life-long New Yorker, he is a graduate of the High School of Music and Art (now the LaGuardia High of Music and the Performing Arts), where he studied oil painting and other media, and of Columbia College, and Columbia Law School, where he earned his Juris Doctor degree. Peterson sits on the boards of several nonprofit organizations promoting the arts, equality, and public wellbeing. He has provided pro bono legal assistance to nonprofit organizations and conceived of and executed many charitable events. Prior to becoming a lawyer, he was a filmmaker and television producer. New York: Stilled Life is his effort to document and share a momentous period in New York history with New Yorkers and the world.

Gregory J. Peterson


Interview with NY1