lynsey addario, photographer

Baghdad: After the Storm

Baghdad After the Storm

Despite hardships and lingering violence, residents imagine a new version of the ancient city.

On a bridge over the Tigris a man feeds gulls at dawn as water taxis await the morning's first passengers.
  
Notebooks in hand, young women head to class at the University of Baghdad, passing blast walls plastered with political posters. More than half the 70,000 students are female. The school closed briefly in 2006, after a rash of killings and kidnappings targeted academics.
  
Moviegoers at Baghdad's first 4-D cinema get an extra thrill from shaking seats and wind machines during a 3-D sci-fi film. During the worst years of violence, families stayed home to watch TV or DVDs. Most cinemas closed, as did this one, though it has plans to expand and reopen.
     
  
Baghdad's traffic, choked by hundreds of checkpoints, slows to a crawl while security forces inspect vehicles for weapons and explosives.
  
Pedestrians navigate Al Jumhuriyah Street, where 12-foot blast walls shield markets on either side. Shoppers skirt the walls and slip between concrete blocks to enter the animal market (at right) and the Shorjah bazaar (at left), where bomb attacks occurred during the years of sectarian conflict.
  
A train passenger traveling from Baghdad to Karbala, a Shiite holy city some 60 miles south of the capital, reads a prayer book. A police officer's rifle rests on the front seat.
     
  
Iraqi soldiers and police now receive mandatory training to identify and defuse explosives.
  
By the end of 2010 violence had declined by 90 percent from its peak of 240 incidents a day in 2007. Yet episodic bomb blasts continue, such as the one last November that left 20-year-old Fatima Muhassen Aziz a quadriplegic.
  
Seated near the entrance of the Shahbandar literary café, owner Haji Mohammed al Khashali gazes out to Al Mutanabbi Street, a centuries-old hub for booksellers and intellectuals. A 2007 car bomb near the café killed five of Khashali's sons, whose portraits hang on the wall.
     
  
Shiites who fled sectarian violence near their villages have found safety and shelter in a garbage-strewn slum north of Baghdad. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that 1.5 million Iraqis remain internally displaced, many living in what it describes as
  
Starting at 6 a.m., women in west Baghdad jostle for kerosene rations. Hundreds line up; many leave empty-handed after waiting all day. Chronic shortages of water, electricity, and fuel have sparked protests. Says one Baghdad resident: “People wish we were still under Saddam. At least we knew what to expect.”
  
A reminder of another war, the Martyrs Monument in eastern Baghdad commemorates the hundreds of thousands of lives lost in Iraq's eight-year conflict with Iran in the 1980s. Several Saddam-era monuments—mostly those bearing his likeness—have been torn down since 2003. This one is still carefully tended, though it's closed, for now, to the public for security reasons.
     
  
At his Baghdad barbershop Jalal Khalil (in pink) and customers followed news of the antigovernment uprising in Egypt. Inspired by the Egyptian rallies, Iraqis gathered in relatively small numbers for weekly protests, demanding jobs and basic services such as electricity and clean water.
  
Pilgrims visit Al Kazimiyah Shrine, a Shiite holy site relatively unharmed by the years of violence.
  
Sitting beneath fans spraying a cool mist, families savor evening snacks at a park in Baghdad's upscale Al Karradah district.
     
  
Vendors prepare lahm bi ajeen, similar to pizza, in central Baghdad's bustling, upscale Al Karradah district. Roadside bombs in the neighborhood are a continuing hazard but have not deterred shoppers. Generators help keep lights ablaze during the city's frequent power cuts.
  
Young thrill seekers don wet suits and get ready to jet ski on the Tigris River.
  
Iraqis escape blistering city temperatures, which can exceed 110°F, in Habbaniyah Lake, 50 miles west of Baghdad. Once a top tourist and honeymoon destination, the Habbaniyah area filled with Sunni refugees fleeing militia violence after the invasion. Tourists have begun trickling back.
     
  
Big weddings costing up to $10,000 have become more common as young people feel safe enough to plan for the future. Some 300 guests celebrated for two days when bride Heelan Muhammad, 23, married Husham Raad, 30, last October. They are saving for a house. Daily life isn't always easy, says 24-year-old Raad Ezat-Khalil (with baby), the groom's cousin and matchmaker, but
  
Baghdad's relative calm has lent sparkle to the city's social scene—especially for the wealthy. At the glitzy new Lebanese Club overlooking the Tigris, patrons must check any weapons at the door before enjoying nonalcoholic drinks on the terrace.
  
Dancers perform for male patrons at a nightclub in Baghdad. Some clubs that opened during Saddam Hussein's rule have since been closed by the authorities in response to complaints that they offend Islamic beliefs.
     
  
Bikers rev their engines in Al Jadriyah Lake Park.
  
At the end of a long day a cotton candy vendor awaits customers in Zawra Park, home to an amusement park and the city zoo. The park shuts at 11 p.m., an hour before the nightly curfew empties streets and a new day begins.