Photo Essay : The Tree That Healed Me | By Francesca Magnani

Last Updated: December 7, 2021By

As a street photographer, I have followed with curiosity how people coped with the pandemic as a way to deal with the unknown. I was here on 9/11 and during Sandys aftermath, and last March I saw in peoples expression and way of moving on the street an anguish, an incredulity and a confusion that often matched my own. I walked around the neighborhood every day and progressively I saw how people started wearing their feelings and expressions on a piece of cloth: in parks, on the subways, during the Black Lives Matter demonstrations, in restaurants, across the bridges I walk every day.

I spent last winter in Greenpoint, feeling isolated and sad, and when I learned that a nearby yoga studio was giving classes in Transmitter Park I was elated. The place itself is fascinating: a 6.61-acre public park located where Greenpoint Avenue ends in the East River, it was acquired by the public radio station WNYC in 1935 as the site of twin antennas used for broadcasting. From 1937 to 1990, the city-operated station broadcast its AM signal from this location. Later, because of the adoption of antennas in Kearny, New Jersey and on the World Trade Center, the Greenpoint property sat unused until construction began in August 2010 and the park opened two years later in September 2012. WNYC Transmitter Park still contains WNYC’s old transmitter house.

Right away I started attending the classes New Love City was offering outside, and day by day felt the positive effect of community, movement and fresh air. I especially liked breathing while watching the leaves and branches of a hundred year old willow tree: for me every pose was vrksasana, tree pose.

On July 4, I went to see the fireworks there, and again, to me the tree was the best firework. The night of July 6 a big storm toppled the tree, the tree that healed me. I went there the next morning and again, the community had gathered in mourning the weeping willow, which I learned, for locals, was as important as a monument.

One Transmitter Park image from this gallery is part of the show The city in masks” at the Consulate General of Italy. Some prints are also at Oslo café on Roebling Street in Brooklyn.

Francesca Magnani is a Brooklyn based Italian photographer, writer, teacher and translator. Born and raised in Padua, she arrived at CUNY as a Fulbright graduate student in 1997. Since then, she has been telling in words and images the stories that move her while she chronicles at the same time her own life, on and off the mat. Follow her on @magnanina and

All photos by Francesca Magnani.


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