© David Alan Harvey
NEW YORK, N.Y. - Tags and grills: This eye-catching loft building in the South Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn is called the Kibbutz because of its Hasidic owner, who runs a shop on the first floor, a school for Hasidic girls next door, and possibly a matzoh factory in the basement. But the mix of tenants is far more eclectic than it sounds: at one time 30 photographers lived in the building, drawn by the space, the affordable rent, and the spectacular views from the roof.
© Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
MILTON, VT. - My father, my son: Special education teacher Paul Erena spends the afternoon with his son, James, who was born with a neurological disorder that severely limits his ability to move and speak. James' treehouse was built by Forever Young Treehouses and funded by the Make-a-Wish Foundation, which has awarded grants to more than 150,000 disabled and terminally ill children.
© Rick Smolan
EAST HAMPTON, N.Y. - A house is not a home: On a quiet East Hampton lane, minutes away from the train that brings commuters from Manhattan, a brand-new house glows brightly, waiting for prospective buyers to tour its four bedrooms. While most of America is reeling from the sub-prime mortgage crisis, a few communities like this one, situated on the easternmost point of Long Island, maintain their value. Surrounded by water on three sides, East Hampton has a well-deserved reputation as a playground of the rich. President Clinton spent his summer vacations there, two first ladies spent their youths playing on the town's beaches, and famed artist Jackson Pollock created his most famous paintings in East Hampton.
© Rick Smolan
EAST HAMPTON, N.Y. - Grandpop knows best: Ever since they were toddlers, the first thing that Phoebe and Jesse Smolan, 7 and 5, do when they arrive at their grandfather's Long Island home is to climb into the painted school lockers to see how much they've grown since their last visit. A scrapbook kept by Grandpop Elliott Erwitt, a renowned photographer whose images appear on the walls of museums around the world, lets them chart their growth.
© Bradley E. Clift
HARTFORD, CONN. - Memories of home: Somalis Rukia Hassan, 15, and her three brothers, Abdi, Abdikadir, and Abdirzak, are among the 30,000 African political and religious refugees allowed into the United States each year. Though often living in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the country, most are happy to be here and keep their memories of home alive by decorating their floors and walls to reflect their native traditions. Like other immigrants before them, many Somalis will lift themselves out of poverty by the time their grandchildren are born.
© Judy Griesedieck
MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. - Family circle: At the end of each day, Jackie and Robert Harvey and their five boisterous boys gather around the dinner table to read from the Bible and hold hands in a quiet prayer. During their 15 years of marriage, after having met through the church, the Harveys have been music ministers at Our Lady of Grace church in Edina, Minn. But this year they plan to take a sabbatical to focus their time and energy on their family.
© Ben Garvin
HAM LAKE, MINN. - Riveting tale: Anna Couwenhoven, 3, sits in her mother Ann's lap as they read a book together. Looking on are Noah, 8; Micah, 6; and Phillip, 3. Five of Ann and husband Russ' 10 children were adopted, some from the United States, some from Ethiopia. Says Ann, "After our first adoption we felt like we had been trained. So we started seeking more children. God was telling us to adopt older kids." God also had a surprise waiting, Ann says. "While filing paperwork for our last adoption, I found out I was pregnant."
© Michael O'Brien
CEDAR PARK, TEXAS - Secret smile: Only seven weeks old, the five newest Wilkinsons—Kassidy, Kaydence, Rustin, Kyndall, and Ryder—are swaddled in flannel wraps after their morning baths. With two older children, Kaiya, 4, and Riley, 7, their parents, Riley and Rachelle, would be overwhelmed without the help of local volunteers, who come in pairs every two hours.
© Tim Klein
TINLEY PARK, ILL. - Virtual homeroom: Ortensia Ontiveros begins each day of homeschooling by joining her online classmates in the pledge of allegiance. Ortensia says her favorite part of the school day is learning about Jesus. Surveys of homeschooling families have found that more than a third do so for religious reasons. The most popular reason for homeschooling, at nearly 50 percent, is for better-quality education.
© Gayle Shomer Brezicki
MOORESVILLE, N.C. - Strangers in a strange land: Alexandra Noura von Briesen, a 13-year-old Muslim, borrows her brother's laptop to do her homework. She and her parents recently returned from Senegal, where all five von Briesen children attended Koran school. Despite fears about prejudice in post-9/11 America, the von Briesen family says they have been embraced by their new neighbors. An estimated 1 percent of all Americans are Muslim.
© Bradley E. Clift
GROTON POINT, CONN. - Sky, water, and land: Lauren, 12, swings off her grandparents' porch in the sunset. Her grandfather, lobster fisherman George Main, spends mornings on the misty waters of the Atlantic working the pots, afternoons catching fish off the back of his boat, and evenings at his waterfront home preparing his gear for the next day. But Main and his wife, Mary, always have time to watch Lauren swing.
© Peggy Peattie
SAN DIEGO, CALIF. - Night moves: Anthony Robinson and Belinda Darby are from very different backgrounds: she comes from money and has a PhD in computer science; he was a poor kid from South Carolina who had trouble with the law. They found each other on the street, and now Darby is pregnant. Each night Robinson sets out their blankets and erects a shaky wooden table. And while Darby sleeps, Robinson gathers partially full cans from local dumpsters to keep them fed—then settles in to watch a DVD.
© Carlos Ortiz
CHILI, N.Y. - Ready teddies: Janice Hanson, 57, sorts through the collection of teddy bears in her living room near Rochester, N.Y. Hanson caught the bear-collecting bug from two of her friends back in 1970 and has been acquiring ever since. "When I die, I want people to take care of them," she says, then laughs. "Some friends have already picked out the ones they want." Hanson admits that she has lost count of how many she has, "but just looking at them all brings a smile to my face."
© Michael Appleton
NEW YORK, N.Y. - Mobile home: Peabody "Cowboy" Dennis, a Vietnam veteran who has lived on the streets for more than four years, smokes a pipe before going to sleep. Each night he meticulously rebuilds his shelter—then, in the morning, disassembles it to meet city regulations. A growing number of cities have instituted similar laws, aimed at preventing permanent homeless camps while recognizing the need for nightly shelter. The homeless population in America is estimated at more than 3 million, half of them men.
© Deanne Fitzmaurice
NEWMAN, CALIF. - A new pattern: Days before her marriage ceremony, Monica Yatin Patel and her father gather with nearly 100 female relatives and friends in their living room for a pithi ceremony. As the guests sing and dance, Patel's skin is rubbed with chickpea flour, turmeric, and rosewater to make it glow, and henna decorations are painted on her hands and feet. In the Hindu religion, though the groom may visit, the bride is now not allowed out of her house until she is married.
© Oscar Sosa
ST. CLOUD, FLA. - Racing the wind: The Meyer children—Asia, 10, Tommy (Scooter), 7, Max, 11, and Catherine, 8—hurry home to beat an impending thunderstorm. Their parents, Sharon and Robert, own two neighboring homes to accommodate their 28 adopted and 5 living biological children. Sharon also started the Foundation for Large Families, a resource and network for large families committed to adoption.
© Fred Zwicky
PEORIA, ILL. - Eye of the hurricane: On a warm evening, Rasheedan Jackson keeps track of her 1-year-old daughter, Aniya (foreground), as the little girl plays with sisters Jakima and Jakinia Roesbur, 2 and 4, and other young residents of Taft Homes public housing. About 1.3 million American households currently live in government-assisted housing.
© David Radler
OMAHA, NEB. - Pre-game warm-up: At Omaha's Westside High School, it's a long-standing tradition for the cheerleading squad to have dinner at one of the girls' homes before each Saturday night game.
© Annie O'Neill
McMURRAY, PENN. - Threshold: Elise and Aidan Dowdall spend every summer moment in their backyard playhouse. The $10,000, 90-square-foot miniature manor has sponge-painted walls, simulated hardwood floors, electricity, and a sleeping loft. But when it gets dark, the siblings still prefer their own beds at home.
© Brian Lanker
EUGENE, ORE. - Transported tradition: Hispanic Americans are the fastest-growing minority segment of the U.S. population. Here, wearing traditional Mexican dresses, sisters Irene and Araceli Guzman and Claudia Pelayo practice for a dance performance—while little brother Fernando Pelayo, dressed in his traditional charro suit (used by mariachis), looks on. Their father, Fernando Guzman, came to the United States 13 years ago as a construction worker. Now a contractor, he built the home behind them.
© Thomas Boyd
EUGENE, ORE. - Swing your partner: Melanie Rios leads a play rehearsal at Maitreya Ecovillage, a small community of homes near downtown Eugene designed by its residents to be both green and sustainable. The play, to be performed locally by the residents, deals with attitudes towards global warming. Sixty-six percent of Americans now believe that global warming is a serious threat to the future of mankind, and many have changed their lifestyles to address these concerns.
© Bill Greene
WOODS HOLE, MASS. - The life aquatic: Chris Warner and his two daughters, Ava, 5, and Ellabelle, 2, navigate the passage between their neighbors' houseboats. "When people come to the Cape, we move offshore," says Warner, who has finished building his family's third houseboat. "The water life, we live it." On weekends, Warner and his neighbors hold dances on the roofs of their houseboats.
© Rick Smolan
NEW YORK, N.Y. - 'Round midnight: As the witching hour approaches, lights in the Beresford apartment building, a block from the American Museum of Natural History, begin to dim and fade. Central Park is deserted, and a low fog moves over Manhattan's famed skyscrapers. America sleeps.
© Charlie Gray
WOKING, SURREY, UK - After the fast: Mufti Liaquat Ali Amod, 52, and his wife Zainub, 45, prepare a meal to break the Ramadan fast. They fast for a whole month, every day from daybreak until sunset. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar and the holiest of the four holy months. The spiritual aspects of the fast include refraining from gossiping, lying and slandering. Purity of thought and action is paramount.
© Charlie Gray
WOKING, SURREY, UK - Purification: Mufti, imam and head of education at the Shah Jahan Mosque, prepares for prayer. "We wash our hands first and brush our teeth," he says, "then clean our nose and whole face, then the right arm and left arm up to the elbows. Then we pass our wet hands over our head, neck and ears and wash our feet, first the right then the left. Then we wipe our feet and go to the mosque to pray, which we do five times a day."
© Charlie Gray
WOKING, SURREY, UK - Doorkeeper: Mufti and Zainub have five children, four still living at home. They live in two flats on the mosque site. As well as raising the family, Zainub teaches Arabic and Islamic history. Daughter Ayesha, 16, is at school. "We all look up to our dad; he's very lovely," Ayesha says. "It's also nice to have our own flat upstairs. It's our own little place, a hideout."
© Mike Goldwater
NEW CROSS GATE, LONDON - Glow of health: In her home, Amber Sibley, 39, a make-up artist and color therapist, adjusts a light table (the first of its kind in the UK) that she developed with an American colleague. Light therapists believe that by altering the lights that surround us, it is possible to enhance health and well-being. They often combine the use of color with other complementary therapies, such as aromatherapy, massage, reflexology and yoga.
© Caroline Irby
ORFORD, SUFFOLK - Bouquet: Nineteen-month-old Samphire Mitchell-Cotts plays beneath the washing line in the garden of the house into which her family recently moved. Samphire and her five siblings -- Celandine, 11, Tamarisk, 8, Campion, 7, twins Rowan and Valerian, 4 -- are all (apart from Rowan) named after the wild flowers that grew on the beach and in the garden at their former Suffolk home by the sea.
© Simon Roberts
ST. MERRYN, CORNWALL - Homehenge: Edward Christopher Hambley Prynn, 71, is the self-proclaimed Archdruid of Cornwall. Since he was a child, he has been drawn by the power of standing stones. A quarry injury at the age of 32 set him on his life's work. Today there are 21 of these monoliths standing in the garden of his bungalow on the north coast of Cornwall. The first was erected in 1982 and the last in 1999. He is standing on The Angel's Runway, which weighs 18.5 tons.
© Leonie Purchas
CAMDEN, LONDON - Water bed: Songwriter Alice McLaughlin, 28, and film producer Jules Cocke, 29, have been a couple for a year, though they had been best friends for a decade. Alice bought her 53-ft. narrowboat several months ago. "It's very chilled-out and open-plan, very simple, with a bath right in the middle and the bed at one end. Being here is like being on holiday," says Alice. "There's no central heating, just a coal-burning stove, so you have to work hard to keep it cozy in the winter."
© Murdo MacLeod
WEST END, EDINBURGH - Brush up: Standing at 4 feet 2 inches tall, chimney sweep Albert Boat, 48, has been a circus clown and appeared as a Jawa in 'Star Wars.' These days he works as a sweep with an Edinburgh company, Auld Reekie. Albert is joined on the rooftop by Kirk McLenaghan, 37, who owns the company, and Sid Mutch, 40. Edinburgh Castle dominates the skyline. In the 1960s there were 300--400 sweeps in the city. Now there are only a handful.
© Guilhem Alandry
DONCASTER, SOUTH YORKSHIRE, UK - Splish splash: "It's nice to live in a place that you've done up yourself," says Neil Rands, 45. Originally a builder, Neil is now studying art and has already sold several of his paintings. "This is my bedroom-cum-bathroom-cum-chilling room and it's my favorite room in the house," he says. "I like to get out some candles and a glass of wine and relax."
© Brian Griffin
SOUTHWARK, LONDON - Block party: Unemployment among the residents of apartments in the Brandon housing complex is high, but so are spirits: a recent Children and Youth Festival drew 500 people without a single disturbance. Its costs were paid for by TV shows filmed in the area -- including The Bill, Doctor Who, and Spooks -- which frequently use the complex to portray urban realism. The building, built in 1957, has 68 apartments and the residents are primarily low-income, young, multi-ethnic, single-parent families.
© Richard Baker
ISLE OF SKYE, INVERNESS-SHIRE, UK - Earth, water and Skye: The rugged beauty of Scotland's coastal islands has been home to the Clan MacLeod since the 12th century. Family descendants still inhabit Dunvegan Castle, the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Europe. Other island residents include not only those whose families have lived on Skye for generations, but also incomers from across Britain looking for an alternative to the bustle of 21st-century life.
© Steve Peake
POWYS, WALES - Maintaining their dignity: Gareth Davies, 54, and his wife, Alison, 53, live in one of the most isolated farms in Wales. Their modernized 16th-century farmhouse in Powys has no mains electricity. They have been campaigning against wind farms for 12 years and although they have no wind turbines on their own land, they are surrounded by them. The couple have also just learned that a major road is to be built close to their home.
© Andy Hall
BLACKDOWN HILLS, DEVON, UK - Feet first: Will Brown, 33, braves the cold all year round to keep clean. A tree surgeon, he built his remote house seven years ago from trees he felled himself. His friend Tom "Briggsy" Briggs, 30, can be seen inside the house, which Will shares with his black mongrel, Scoobie. Will pays the farmer who owns the land a nominal rent and often barters his labor for essential goods.
© Andy Hall
CHARLTON, LONDON - Aqua marine: "My duck's name is Drake," says Jessica Hall, 12. "My Granny and Grandpa got it for me when I was 3 and it makes my bath times so much more fun. Whenever I have a bath, I switch the light off and watch it change colors." Says her father Andy, "She loves that duck -- despite being told by everyone that she's too old for it."