Raining Under Manhattan Bridge

Posted by on Dec 20, 2015 in essays, places, Street Photography | No Comments
Raining Under Manhattan Bridge

Under the Manhattan Bridge overpass and east of Bowery lies Little Fuzhou (New Chinatown). This photo essay is a collection of images captured in this neighborhood on a rainy October morning.

Looking down on Bowery, from our hotel's rooftop, before heading out.

Fuzhou is the capital of China's southeastern coastal province of Fujian. In 1683, the Qing dynasty conquered Taiwan and annexed it into the Fujian province. Chinese Fujianese brought their culture and language to Taiwan.

In the early 1980's Fujianse immigrants from China and Taiwan began arriving in New York. Speaking little English, their employment options were limited. Many found work in Manhattan's Chinatown where the majority of business owners were Cantonese. With little money, renting a room under the noisy Manhattan Bridge overpass was the only option. This was the beginning of Little Fuzhou.

Above it all, the deafening rumble of B, D, and Q trains passing over Manhattan Bridge.

As morning rain falls on Eldridge Street, a shop owner raises his steel slatted gate and opens for business. A Chinese chef, wearing all white, finds a dry place to sit and read his morning paper. Somebody's grandmother sits alone, looking out her window, while a young couple prepares their children for school. Around the corner, on Division Street, customers squeeze into a tiny neighborhood restaurant. Hoping for a handout, a homeless man peers through a weeping window. Under a battered awning, Chinese men smoke cigarettes while sitting on empty market stands. Weary travelers line up on Pike Street and wait for their bus. A man stands in an open doorway, making notes in his journal, while laborers unload produce from small graffiti covered trucks. Along Forsyth Street, freshly stocked markets spill out onto sidewalks. A woman in rubber boots, carrying a red plastic bag full of oranges, navigates puddles on her way home. Umbrellas brush as strangers pass on East Broadway. The sounds of car horns, air brakes, grinding of gears, and tires on wet asphalt fill the air. Above it all, the deafening rumble of B, D, and Q trains passing over Manhattan Bridge.

Today there are more Fujianese than Cantonese in Manhattan's Chinatown. This prosperity is being challenged by gentrification and exorbitant rent prices. Like so many other working-class neighborhoods before, Little Fuzhou's future is uncertain. A saving grace might be the B, D, and Q trains deafening rumble as they pass over Manhattan Bridge.

location: Manhattan, NYC
date: October 2014

Leave a Reply