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In the Picture: On the Couch in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

In every print issue, we fix our gaze on an everyday photograph and chase down facts about details in the frame.


(Photo: Joey Oloughlin)

  • At the height of a reading craze in the late 1700s, one scholar warned that too much reading could cause “colds, headaches, weakening of the eyes, heat rashes, gout, arthritis, hemorrhoids, asthma, apoplexy,” and other maladies.
  • A 2009 study found that preschool children who scored in the top 10 percent on language tests had conversations with their parents that involved 18 more turns — statements or questions that elicited a response, as opposed to commands — per hour than children who scored in the bottom 90 percent.
  • This may be why hearing more words in childhood correlates with better language skills later in life. “As the number of words increases,” one of the authors of the 2009 study told Education Week, “so does the richness [and] syntactic complexity.”
  • Twenty-six-year-olds who grew up in low-income families in Brooklyn earn $2,210 less than the average annual income, according to the economist Raj Chetty’s study of tax data for 10 million American children.
  • The Citizens’ Committee for Children, a research and advocacy group, ranked Bay Ridge as one of the best Brooklyn neighborhoods to raise children in, based on indicators like education quality, violent crime rate, and median income.

(Photo: Joey Oloughlin)

  • A Norwegian immigrant enclave for decades, Bay Ridge now contains the largest Arab-American community outside of Michigan and California.
  • Last October, a federal appeals court ruled that a group of Muslims, including some in Bay Ridge, who had been cooperating with law enforcement on terrorism investigations might have been targeted by the New York Police Department for surveillance efforts “solely because of their religion,” sending the case back to a lower court for re-consideration.
  • The artist and former Bay Ridge resident Hasan Hourani painted the image above the couch, depicting a scene in Egypt. Figures in ancient Egyptian art typically had upright posture, which has been linked to better moods and positive short-term changes in levels of hormones that contribute to stress.
  • In 2003, Hourani drowned off the coast of the Israeli port city of Jaffa while trying to save his cousin. One of his best friends, the Israeli poet and author Dorit Rabinyan, wrote in the Guardian of his death: “New York loves people like you, people who peel the world with their fingers, like a glowing orange dripping juice.”
  • In 2015, the Israel Ministry of Education left Rabinyan’s prize-winning book Borderlife, about a doomed romance between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian soldier, off a required-reading list for literature classes, prompting protests from teachers and principals.