Sleep District: where all can afford the rent

A resident of the Sleep District in McCarren Park

In the warmer months, you can see New Yorkers sleeping outside: office drones stealing an hour from cubicles, street people slumbering through a hot afternoon, lovers clasping each other in a sweaty, tender embrace. Sleeping in public is one of the rare pleasures that remains literally priceless, one of the last free rides in an increasingly expensive city. It’s a tenuous, temporary real-estate deal affordable by anyone who can claim a spot of grass. This silent, somnolent democracy is the Sleep District, where citizenship is open to all, and whose entry fee is lower than a MetroCard. Walt Whitman said, “I swear they are all beautiful/Every one that sleeps is beautiful,” and I agree: Here are some photographs investigating the residents of the Sleep District.

A man and his bag in McCarren Park


Sitting awake while his friend sleeps behind him in McCarren Park, "Seydou" graciously sits for his portrait.


Exactly the effect Miss Austen produces in me. Bryant Park, Manhattan


Taken his duties as a Miller "Liteguard" too seriously, in McGolrick Park.


Unsound sleep in Madison Square Park


Central Park couple.


Rip Van Winkle–Father Christmas beard. McCarren Park.


Keep exploring The Sleep District! Find many more photos in Tim’s Flickr pool documenting the silent peace of people at sleep in public.


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