View Down South Street approximately 4 AM circa 1981
NYC The Waterfront "South Street"
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.