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NYC The Waterfront "South Street"

1980-1984

As a young photographer starting out in her career, Ms. Mensch moved to lower Manhattan next to the Brooklyn Bridge. She began photographing her neighborhood in the early 1980’s. The lonely cobblestoned streets came alive each night as New York's infamous, nearly 200 year-old Fulton Market still operated hard by the East River.  She bonded with fishmongers, and mob bosses, “authentic New Yorkers” becoming a confidante for their life stories which were often filled with hardship, mystery and misadventure. Her striking photographs capture the unique personality and fierce secrecy of their vibrant working-class culture. These images offer a rare peek inside a  precious last vestige of historic Gotham. 

Mensch’s book, South Street ( Columbia University Press 2007 ) chronicles the eroding power of mob influence on the waterfront and reveals the poignant corporate takeover.  South Street has become a valuable tool in understanding the forces behind gentrification and the loss of the oldest historic neighborhood in Manhattan. South Street was reprinted in paperback in 2009 and is in the permanent collections of museums and university libraries.

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View Down South Street approximately 4 AM circa 1981

NYC The Waterfront "South Street"

1980-1984

As a young photographer starting out in her career, Ms. Mensch moved to lower Manhattan next to the Brooklyn Bridge. She began photographing her neighborhood in the early 1980’s. The lonely cobblestoned streets came alive each night as New York's infamous, nearly 200 year-old Fulton Market still operated hard by the East River.  She bonded with fishmongers, and mob bosses, “authentic New Yorkers” becoming a confidante for their life stories which were often filled with hardship, mystery and misadventure. Her striking photographs capture the unique personality and fierce secrecy of their vibrant working-class culture. These images offer a rare peek inside a  precious last vestige of historic Gotham. 

Mensch’s book, South Street ( Columbia University Press 2007 ) chronicles the eroding power of mob influence on the waterfront and reveals the poignant corporate takeover.  South Street has become a valuable tool in understanding the forces behind gentrification and the loss of the oldest historic neighborhood in Manhattan. South Street was reprinted in paperback in 2009 and is in the permanent collections of museums and university libraries.

Mike the Watchman approximatly 1 AM Peck Slip circa 1981

Beekman and Front Street circa 1980

Schermerhorn Row - (Dogherty Loading Zone) Fulton Fish Market circa 1980

Front Street circa 1979

Mikey the Bartender Paris Bar circa 1980

Last Days of the Paris Bar circa 1980

Carter Dock Fulton Market approximately 1AM circa 1982

"Pups" (Headless Swordfish) in Peck Slip approximately 5:45 AM circa 1980

Beekman Dock Icehouse approximately 6AM circa 1981

"High Hat" Baskets - Old Market Building circa 1984

Interior - Old Market (Tin) Building circa 1983

Vinny - An Unloader circa 1982

Nunzio - An Unloader circa 1982

Vinny "The Bone" - A Fillet Man circa 1982

Albino A Fillet Man circa 1982

Portrait of Big John circa 1982

Mombo - An Unloader circa 1984

Journeyman and Customer's Truck approximately 3:30 AM circa 1983

Harry "The Hat" - Journeyman Under Brooklyn Bridge circa 1983 approximately 6AM

Four Workers - South Street approximatly 6:30 AM circa 1984

Deliveries to Peck Slip Winter approximately 3 AM 1983

End of Work Day approximately 7AM circa 1981

Playing with Guns approximately 4:30 AM circa 1983

Jake "The Snake" - A Loader South Street circa 1983

Interior - Smitty's Fillet House approximately 4 AM circa 1984

Loading A "Jew" Fish Peck Slip 1983

Ziggy's Bathroom #2

Sal's Bots circa 1983

Last Fishing Boat to Market circa 1981

Workers Watching Dock Destruction circa 1982

Johnny Beyer Salesman Dynasty Fish Company circa 1983

Corporate Girls Walking to Work on Wall Street circa 1983

Mr. Miller's Hands circa 1983

Dock Destruction circa 1982

Building the Mall circa 1982

"Fuck the Corporation" Interior Locker Room over Carmine's Bar circa 1983

South Street Book Cover 2009