Credit: Darrow Montgomery

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The spilled French fries City Paper staff photographer Darrow Montgomery shot in September might as well be a metaphor for 2021. The year 2020 closed with news of a new president and promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials, and the new year dawned with the promise and glow of a golden fried potato. Then, six days into January, hordes of insurrectionists stormed the Capitol, resulting in armed soldiers pacing our streets and the entire complex getting fenced off for more than six months.

You’ll see images from those dark early days of the year in the following pages, but you’ll also see the ordinary and extraordinary things Montgomery captured while going about his life. Through his lens, we see a robin’s perch next to a stoop sculpture transform into an idiom, a dog’s paws disrupt fresh snow, and blossoms from a flowering tree blanket a lawn. His photos allow us to grasp these moments of joyful normalcy for a little while longer.

Normalcy, of course, has yet to return. Passersby and public officials continue to wear masks or remove them briefly to pose for portraits. The colonnade at Union Station has become an outdoor photo studio. We’re still not sure how to best tour new apartments, despite how eager building managers may be to fill units. And yet the world keeps on spinning forward and the sky remains above us. Be they cloudy, sunlit and cerulean, or crosscut with a rainbow, they’re a constant reminder—for Montgomery and the rest of us—to keep looking up. —Caroline Jones

Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson
Inauguration Day, near the White House
Inauguration Eve outside the U.S. Capitol
Inauguration Eve outside the U.S. Capitol
Inauguration Eve outside the U.S. Capitol
3400 block of 16th Street NW
1100 block of Spring Road NW
Unknown location
Beach Drive NW
Columbia Island Marina
500 block of Upshur Street NW
1600 block of Newton Street NW
2700 Block of S Oakland St, Arlington, VA
Jenari Mitchell, poet
Fly Zyah, 9-year-old singer
3400 block of 11th Street NW
Don Zientara, record producer
3100 block of Mount Pleasant Street NW
Lawrence Sapp, Paralympic swimmer
Blair Road and Aspen Street NW
Unit block of Pierce Street NE
1700 block of Park Road NW
3300 block of Brown Street NW
1400 block of Otis Place NW
1600 block of Newton Street NW
Little Bacon Bear
Nzinga Tull
Marcelle Afram
Delan “Blue” Ellington
Larry Calhoun, DC Realtime News