New York at Night
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New York City - Sunset Over East Broadway - Chinatown
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New York City - Snow - Doyers Street - Chinatown
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New York City - Streets - Chinatown - East Broadway- By Vivienne Gucwa
There are streets that wrap themselves into my consciousness. They weave themselves into the fabric of every summer-drenched memory.
Every color, every faded mark, every fire escape permeates thoughts that sleepwalk their way into dreams.
This is East Broadway in Chinatown, New York City. It's a view that can be seen from the pedestrian walkway of the Manhattan Bridge. It's one of my favorite streets in lower Manhattan. I have taken countless images of it and every single image sings a slightly different song.
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Chinatown- Under the Manhattan Bridge - New York City Street- By Vivienne Gucwa When winter shifts into spring, the light shifts too. Stark, short afternoons that end too abruptly morph vivid, warm afternoons that linger until the sky relents. ---- This was taken on a stark, short afternoon that was only mildly flirting with spring a week or so ago before the city erupted into full-on springtime mode. This is one of my favorite parts of Chinatown under the Manhattan Bridge. ----
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Storm Clouds - Chinatown - New York City- By Vivienne Gucwa As storm clouds approach, the sun washes over the city showering its splendor onto the urban landscape like a brilliant star projecting its last bits of light into the vast universe. I love the light on the buildings in this section of Chinatown before a storm. This particular view overlooks the tenements that face the Forsyth Market under the Manhattan Bridge where produce and other food is sold daily in a sprawling open air market. ---
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New York City - Pell Street - Chinatown - Rainy Evening
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Rooftop Graffiti in Chinatown Looking Towards the Brooklyn Bridge - New York City- By Vivienne Gucwa The sun streams across the city in the evening touching every layer of the city with its warmth. And the streets, buildings and bridges cling to its light with soft ferocity hoping to keep it from leaving the sky. ---
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Rain on Pell Street - Chinatown - New York City- By Vivienne Gucwa In-between light creates all its own stories. It’s the light after a long night when the city sleepily shakes off the blanket of darkness and stretches in the first few rays of the waking sun and it’s also the light after a long day when the city unwinds basking in the low light of dusk. In-between light caught in the steady drizzle of rain is even more enchanting. Tears of laughter, heartache, sorrow and joy fall on the city streets silencing their hungry rumble. Buildings darken one by one as the city blurs softly preparing for its nightly refractory period. ---
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Density - Above Chinatown - New York City- By Vivienne Gucwa
There are streets that, for me, fill in the image of New York City that exists in my mind.
I have spoken about this before in older posts. Everyone seems to have their own image of New York City that, for them, represents so much more than just the geographical spot that New York City inhabits on any sort of map. These streets are the embodiment of a core concept that has defined New York City for many decades. The sheer density of people that grace these streets with their presence seem to imbue streets like these with the weight of their aspirations.
New York City has always been a destination for those seeking a generalized concept of a better life. As an economic lighthouse and representation of (the steadily crumbling, nearly non-existent concept of) the American Dream, New York City has attracted people from all over the world especially during the last century.
I grew up the child of an immigrant to the United States. My mother's family fled Eastern Europe after World War II. They (including her) were victims of the war, concentration camp and labor camp survivors who carried with them mental scars so deep that it took years for them to gain even a small modicum of a foothold here.
I have always felt disconnected from her experience though. My mother who wanted her children to blend in rather than stick out as she did when she immigrated here, did her best to give me and my brothers a fairly normal American childhood where we grew up in Queens. It wasn't until a decade ago when I started to ask her about her own immigration story after starting to delve into my own fascination with the history of New York City that I started to understand the gravity of what it means to come to a place like New York City with little more than a massive amount of dreams.
And so, shortly after moving to the Lower East Side from elsewhere in Manhattan I came across this street (the one in this photo) since it sits in a neighborhood that borders the Lower East Side and Chinatown and it felt as if I could finally understand what it must have been like for my mother and for all those who came here to America with eyes full of hope. It's not that my mother settled here. But rather that it's as if this street has been steeped in a time when the world and New York City was a different place, one that held out vast amounts of heady fortune in its outstretched hands. The world has changed quite a bit since my mother first set foot here. It's harder (dare I say almost completely difficult) to come here with next to nothing and make a decent life for yourself. The hands are still held out but they are no longer outstretched for everyone.
When I look at this street today, I see many of the original tenements that were standing one hundred years ago when waves of immigrants came to New York City following their own hazy image of what New York City embodied in their minds and those who traverse this street today are not so far removed from my mother who traversed the streets of New York City for many decades. It's as if, for the few minutes that I spend gazing at this street below as I often do, I am connected in a deeper way to all the dreamers that called and still call New York City their home.
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Fragments - Overlooking Two Bridges - New York City- By Vivienne Gucwa There are areas in lower Manhattan where fragments of the city's history have settled like fine dust, fragile and prone to the whims of time. Around these hallowed enclaves, newer history reaches higher towards the sky and rises from the ground borne from the dust of the city's past. This particular spot is known as Two Bridges and sits along the East River. It borders Chinatown and the Lower East Side and has long been a dwelling spot for many different immigrant communities over the years. It sits alongside the infamous and historic Five Points area where Irish, Jewish and Italian gangs battled to the death in the mid-19th century. It is currently home to a large community of Chinese immigrants and many of the buildings are tenements dating back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. ---
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Doyers Street - Chinatown - New York City
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On Rainy Evenings Like These - Chinatown - New York City- By Vivienne Gucwa There is nothing like a rainy evening in New York City. The streets, darkened by the rainfall take on a beautiful sheen while walls and storefronts glisten. Couples huddle under shared umbrellas and inviting scents of dinner fill the streets. ---
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Stolen Moments - Chinatown - New York City- By Vivienne Gucwa Stolen moments are the sweetest moments. When the rest of the city has escaped for the day, the world melts away with a lingering kiss under an umbrella. ---
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Heart of it All - Above Chinatown - New York City- By Vivienne Gucwa This is one of my favorite views of Chinatown. The view is of East Broadway, a main street in Chinatown that extends into the Lower East Side. A girl sits on one of the rooftops eating a bowl of food in the upper right hand corner of this photo. The Municipal Building sits in the distance. This particular spot is a Chinatown neighborhood known as ‘Two Bridges’. Two Bridges sits along the East River and has long been a dwelling spot for many different immigrant communities over the years. It sits alongside the infamous and historic Five Points area where Irish, Jewish and Italian gangs battled to the death in the mid-19th century. It is currently home to a large community of Chinese immigrants and many of the buildings are tenements dating back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. ---
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In Another Place and Time - Chinatown - New York City- By Vivienne Gucwa
New York City changes and evolves at a rapid pace. In certain areas, changes occur faster than others. Lower Manhattan is one place that has changed the most in the last decade. Development happens fast and the current trends are extremely tall buildings constructed mostly of glass, chain stores and luxury boutiques. In neighborhoods that were once bohemian and home to artists and rebels, these current changes have been hard to swallow for long-time residents who run the risk of being out-priced out of the neighborhoods they have called home for decades.
Despite these changes, there are still parts of lower Manhattan that recall earlier decades. New York City suffered economically in the 1970s and it was during this decade that much of lower Manhattan was transformed into a danger zone full of abandoned lots and buildings and rampant crime. Having grown up in New York City in the 1980s and early 1990s, I have vivid memories of riding graffiti-covered trains from Queens into Manhattan. I was taught to ‘watch my back’ at all times since everyone seemed to know someone who had been mugged. Things were still different in those days prior to the initiatives by mayors Koch and Guiliani to ‘clean up’ the city (and discourse is still rampant regarding how they handled it).
When I came across this section of Canal Street initially, my heart almost leaped out of my chest. Here I was staring at a section of a spot in Chinatown that seemed as if it had been dipped in 1980s New York City and had become frozen in time (thankfully I had my camera). It’s hard to put into words how powerful this scene is for personally. It’s a bit like staring at something that once existed in a distant life.
A city may change rapidly discarding pieces of itself, but it’s the people who carry it’s broken pieces with them in their hearts who imbue the city with its memory.
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New York City - Doyers Street
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