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South Street

South Street

Barbara G. Mensch
Introduction by Phillip Lopate
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    South Street
    Book Description:

    South Street is Barbara G. Mensch's evocative tribute to the lost world of Lower Manhattan's Fulton Fish Market. For more than a century, a colorful, tightly knit community of fishmongers, many of them recent immigrants and children of immigrants, thrived under the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. Resistant to government regulations and corporate encroachment, these men lived in a closed, internally policed world that was deeply hostile to outsiders.

    As a young photographer in the early 1980s, Mensch bonded with this particular group of "authentic New Yorkers," becoming a confidante for their life stories, which were often filled with hardship, mystery, and misadventures. These striking photographs capture the unique personality and fierce secrecy of their vibrant working-class culture. Combined with lively commentary-reminiscent of Studs Terkel's riveting oral histories-the images offer a rare peek inside a society described by Philip Lopate as "a precious last vestige of historic Gotham."

    Mensch's story ends with the closure of the docks and the opening of the Seaport mall, a symbolic victory of corporate interests over more than a century of mob rule. Her visual essay recounts the driving forces and the effects of this urban transformation on the entrenched community of fishmongers, creating an enduring historical document. Though the Fulton Fish Market no longer resides below the Brooklyn Bridge, the history and energy of this cherished New York City landmark are beautifully preserved in this book.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51134-6
    Subjects: Art & Art History, History, Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[viii])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [ix]-[ix])
  3. INTRODUCTION: The Fulton Fish Market
    (pp. 1-43)
    Phillip Lopate

    For more than 180 years, from 1822 to 2005, fishmongers plied their wares in a crowded area on the Lower East Side of Manhattan island, hard by the East River. The Fulton Fish Market was variously described in its lifetime as one of the two, three, or four largest wholesale seafood markets on the planet (the others located in London, Paris, and Tokyo, depending on the year); the largest in the Western Hemisphere; modestly, the largest on the Atlantic Coast; or simply the oldest wholesale fish market operating continuously on one spot.

    Though it grew into a closed, somewhat mysterious...

    (pp. 45-169)
    Barbara G. Mensch

    During the summer of 1979 I was looking for a new place to live. I noticed an ad listing a loft for rent in the South Street area of Lower Manhattan. For three weeks, I dialed the phone number frequently but had no luck in reaching anyone. On what I’d decided would be my very last attempt, someone finally answered. He agreed to show me the space the next day.

    It was intriguing to walk past the Brooklyn Bridge looking for the street address. I knew that since the days of Melville and Whitman, this waterfront had been a vital...

    (pp. 173-174)
    (pp. 177-178)
    (pp. 178-180)
  8. [Illustration]
    (pp. 181-181)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 182-182)