Saturday, August 27, 2016

Real blight: "War Zone" South Bronx, at the Museum of the City of New York

100 feet of blight on Dean (2 of 5 parcels said to be blighted)
In the memorable words of academic Lynne Sagalyn, blight is "when the fabric of a neighborhood is shot to hell."

And that applies not so much to gentrifying blocks in Prospect Heights--remember the "cappuccino test" at Vanderbilt Avenue and Dean Street? or the strip of houses magically claimed to be blighted on Dean east of Sixth?--but the South Bronx in the 1970s.

Consider the following photos I shot after visiting the fascinating Museum of the City of New York exhibit, IN THE SOUTH BRONX OF AMERICA: PHOTOGRAPHS BY MEL ROSENTHAL, which continues through 10/16/16.
CAPTION: Deserted, desolated buildings: "War Zone."
The description:
Scenes from the South Bronx, 1976-82.
The 1970s marked the start of a tumultuous period of decline in the South Bronx, brought on by a loss of manufacturing jobs, reductions in municipal services, plummeting property values, a mass exodus of its residents, and rampant arson. Photographer Mel Rosenthal (b. 1940), who grew up in the South Bronx, was determined to give a public face, and a voice, to those who had been left behind by the area’s evolution. In the South Bronx of America features images taken by Rosenthal at the height of the area’s devastation, focusing on the resilient residents who refused to abandon their neighborhoods.
Join the conversation. #MelRosenthal
My photos, of course, don't do full justice to the collection, but I wanted to reproduce the captions. Here's coverage from Untapped Cities, the Times. Here's Rosenthal's 2001 book, In the South Bronx of America.

CAPTION: "Life carries on in the War Zone"

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