Photos: New York City hit by first snowstorm of 2012

The first snowstorm of 2012 hit New York City on Saturday morning, turning downtown Manhattan into a winter wonderland.

I grabbed my camera and hit the streets  to photograph the snow before it turned into a river of slush. My stops included Astor Place, Union Square and a very resilient Greenmarket, where vendors continued to hawk homemade apple pies and fresh produce despite a heavy dusting of snow.

>> Scroll down for photos of the New York City snowstorm, taken on January 21, 2012.

NYC Snowstorm January 2012 Union Square_8

Fortunately for Mayor Bloomberg, this storm was no “Snowmaggedon.” The snowfall stopped by early afternoon, and trios of plows came frequently through downtown streets. At times it seemed they were scraping more pavement than snow.

The East Village

NYC Snowstorm East Village Jan 2012_2

By 11 AM, St Marks Place was covered in slush. Scores of umbrellas fell victim to high winds, but the sidewalks and streets were mostly clear. The normal bustle of St Marks was replaced by the drone of snow plows and shovels, as shopkeepers struggled to keep up with the snowfall.

NYC Snowstorm East Village Jan 2012_1

NYC Snowstorm East Village Jan 2012_Snow Plow

NYC Snowstorm East Village Jan 2012_Snow Plows

Snow plows were operating in threes throughout the morning.

NYC Snowstorm January 2012 St Marks Place

NYC Snowstorm January 2012 St Marks Place 2

NYC Snowstorm January 2012 Manhattan slush

Snow quickly turned to slush on East Village sidewalks. Few people ventured onto the streets, and I came across an unusual sight: an NYPD traffic cop wearing a full-body, fluorescent yellow snow uniform. Someone alert the fashion police!

NYC Snowstorm East Village Jan 2012_3

Astor Place

NYC Snowstorm January 2012 Astor Place Cube

The Astor Place Cube was dusted with snow during Saturday’s storm. Nearby, workers shoveled the sidewalk in front of Kmart, although few shoppers were in sight. Buses parked in the area were outfitted with snow tires.

NYC Snowstorm January 2012 Grafitti Wall

NYC Snowstorm January 2012 Snow Removal

NYC Snowstorm January 2012 MTA Bus Snow Tires

Union Square

NYC Snowstorm January 2012 Union Square_9

There were no skateboarders, card players or “free hug” proponents at Union Square Park on Saturday morning; only the dog run was buzzing with activity.

As it turns out, the snowstorm was an ideal time to shop on 14th Street. Only a scattering of people were in Best Buy and Nordstrom Rack; normally, I must beat through a crowd just to cross the southern side of the park. For the first time ever, there was no line at all when I ducked in to the Rack. It was a snowstorm miracle!

NYC Snowstorm January 2012 Union Square_11

NYC Snowstorm January 2012 Union Square_7

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NYC Snowstorm January 2012 Union Square_3

NYC Snowstorm East Village Jan 2012_subway

NYC Snowstorm East Village Jan 2012_bike

NYC Snowstorm East Village Jan 2012_bikes

NYC Snowstorm January 2012 Union Square_2

The Greenmarket

NYC Snowstorm January 2012 Union Square Greenmarket 2

Surprisingly, the snowstorm did not keep Greenmarket vendors from opening their stands in Union Square Park. Vendors appeared to outnumber customers by a wide margin, as most shoppers stayed away.

Crisp apples, fresh pies, and exotic fruits were covered with a thick layer of snow. Presumably the chill is good for produce, as one vendor raised the price of Honey Crisp apples to $3 a pound.

NYC Snowstorm January 2012 Union Square Greenmarket 3

NYC Snowstorm January 2012 Union Square Greenmarket 6

NYC Snowstorm January 2012 Union Square Greenmarket Pies

NYC Snowstorm January 2012 Union Square Greenmarket 1

NYC Snowstorm January 2012 Union Square Greenmarket Apples

NYC Snowstorm January 2012 Union Square Greenmarket 4

NYC Snowstorm January 2012 Union Square Greenmarket 5

Would you visit NYC in the winter?

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About Leslie Koch

I'm a New Yorker with a passion for travel and art. I founded DowntownTraveler.com after returning from a year-long backpacking trip around the world. Find me on Twitter at @leslietravel.