EMERGING PHOTOGRAPHERS

NYThroughTheLens: New York City in the 1980s

Vivienne Gucwa


graffiti building chinatown new york city

VIVIENNE GUCWA


We, at Emerging Photographer, are very excited to introduce our newest contributor, Vivienne Gucwa, of NYThroughtheLens. Vivienne has made quite a name for herself on the Internet, lighting up the blog and social media sphere with her beautiful photos and writing that strive to capture New York City. Be on the look out for posts from Vivienne every Thursday.

New York City evolves at a rapid pace. In certain areas, change occurs faster than others. Lower Manhattan is one place that has changed the most over the last decade. Development happens fast and the current trends are tall buildings constructed mostly of glass, housing chain stores and luxury boutiques. In neighborhoods that were once home to artists and rebels, long-time residents have found these changes hard to swallow. They often run the risk of being 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. During the 1970s, Manhattan suffered economically and much of lower Manhattan was transformed into a danger zone, full of rampant crime and abandoned lots and buildings. Having grown up in New York City in the 1980s and early 1990s, I have vivid memories of riding graffiti-covered trains from Queens to Manhattan. I was taught to “watch my back” at all times, since everyone seemed to know someone who had been mugged. Things were different in the days prior to the initiatives made by Mayor Koch and Mayor Guiliani to “clean up” the city. Discourse is still rampant regarding how they handled it.

When I came across this section of Canal Street initially, my heart almost leapt out of my chest. Here I was, staring at a spot in Chinatown that seemed as if it had been frozen in 1980s New York City. Thankfully, I had my camera. It’s hard to put into words how powerful this scene is for me 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 along the way, but it is the people, who carry its broken pieces in their hearts, that imbue the city with its memory.

Camera: Sony A55

Lens: 18-55mm f/3.5 - 5.6

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