History and context turn these pictures into a treasure. They document life in Manhattan’s Chinatown at a time when it was one of the most closed communities in New York. When I first started doing this work, I was 29 years old and now I’m 67. But Glick began taking the black-and-white photographs in 1981, a Museum of Chinese in America asked him to photograph Chinatown. He quickly became captivated. My impression was the sheer population density, the vibrant street life just blew me away. But it took residents a while to warm up to him. So I’m walking down the street. People are saying no picture no picture.
I even had someone throw a bucket of water at me once, not the bucket but the water. But I was walking down the street, and all of a sudden it’s a cold January day, all of a sudden, a man named Frankie Wang turns to me and with a big smile on his face face says, Take my picture. So for me that’s an invitation. After residents saw the photographs, they invited him into their lives: Cramped laundry rooms, tiny closets where men played mahjong, small apartments and untidy clothing factories. Glick digitized the pictures over a period of 30 years and published them online when one day he received an email with a picture attached. It was a photo of Frankie Wang, the subject of his first photo in Chinatown. Then he says just to show you what it was like for me growing up in Chinatown. I’m attaching the photograph of me with my father and my little brother. Glick immediately sent the young man more pictures of him and his family. Today, the photos document an era in Chinatown that has changed since. The community is not as closed or tightly knit, many immigrant communities have dissolved and blended with others, but in much of Chinatown, Glick still remains a very special guest.
From Anna Nelson in New York, Anna Rice VOA News.