Humans of New York – an insight into the minds of children, parents & teachers

Have you ever seen a more gorgeous smile? If you walked past this beautiful boy in the street, you’d never know what that smile is hiding. His mum says, “He probably won’t answer you. He has a speech delay. He talks plenty at home, but strangers have a hard time understanding him. So he’s learned that if he just smiles a lot, people will like him, and they won’t know that he has trouble speaking”. It’s a snippet into someone else’s life – their struggles, and triumphs. This is Humans of New York.

Humans of New York is an incredible project, that started with a seed of an idea five years ago, and bloomed into an amazing catalogue of people in the Big Apple. Brandon Stanton set out to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers and plot their photos on a map. But the idea has morphed into something so much more, with the quotes from each of the subjects creating incredible insights. We particularly love the parents, children and teachers who feature on HONY. Some are uplifting, others pull at the heart strings, and all create a common bond between people raise and teaching the next generations. Here are a few of a favourites…


“I told the older one that he could take karate lessons, but when I did research, I found out that it was $150 week. That was more than we could afford. But I paid it anyway because I made a commitment. And if I break a promise, I’m teaching them that they can break a promise too. I want them to know that my ‘yes’ means ‘yes,’ and my ‘no’ means ‘no.’”


“He learned to hum before he learned to speak. In fact, his love of music has really helped him get past his speech delay, because he wants so bad to sing along with every song that comes on.”


“There are days when I can be great at my job and there are days when I can be a great mum. I’m trying to have as many days that I can do both at the same time. And I’m learning to forgive myself on the days that I can’t.”


“I want to be a positive male influence in their lives. We’re big on building foundations. I tell them: ‘There’s not going to be a switch that flips once you become an adult, and suddenly you start acting right. Every decision you make matters. Because once you’re older, you’re going to revert back to the same behaviour you have right now. If you have a foundation of rudeness, dishonesty, and not caring, that’s what you’ll fall back on when you’re faced with a challenge. So we need to build a foundation of character.”


“I want to be a ballerina.”
“What’s the best part about being a ballerina?”
“What’s the hardest part about being a ballerina?”
“Dancing in front of people.”


“Hazel can’t have superpowers yet. She too little for me to teach her how to control them.”


“What was the happiest moment of your life?”
“I don’t think I have one yet but it’s probably coming up and it’s going to be a surprise.”

If you’re just as enamoured by these glimpses into other people’s lives, have a look through the Humans of New York archives. Just a warning, it’s addictive.

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