ARIEL SABAR author   journalist

​    winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

All photos copyright Stephanie Sabar and may not be reproduced without permission.


Washington Square Park, in the heart of Manhattan's Greenwich Village, has long been a gathering spot for bohemians, musicians and street characters of every stripe. Stephanie Kruger, 28 years old, was taking photos of some of them on a September weekend in 1966 when she caught a certain man's eye.

Yona Sabar, then 27 and a new immigrant, told me he was drawn to the lady with the camera because of her visible empathy for the people in her lens—ragged Americans not often pictured in tourist books.

She sees the image of God in human beings even when they are not at their best, he remembered thinking.

"Are you a tourist?" he asked. She wasn't. But no matter. Four months later, they were married.

The park's role in their unlikely meeting inspired my new book, Heart of the City, which conjures the true stories of nine couples whose matchmaker was in many ways the City of New York.

Not long ago, I asked my mother, now a retired social worker in Los Angeles, whether she still had those photos. She dug through some old files and found the contact sheets. For the first time, I understood what my father had meant.I've gathered a few of the photos here—some from the day my parents met, some from a return visit a year later.​