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A Glimpse of NY Chinatown through Bud Glick’s Black-and-White Photographs

by . November 11th, 2014

It’s been said that one of photography’s many goals is to preserve fleeting moments so that one can look through the past and see how time changed everything. It’s through the help of photographs that we discover what it was like to live in an era so different to the current one we have.

As part of the New York Chinatown History Project or NYCHP (which is now Museum of Chinese in America) back in 1981 to 1984, Bud Glick was tasked to photograph the transformation of the rapidly changing environment of New York Chinatown. The older generation and predominantly male community of Chinatown is rapidly being replaced by a new and younger generation of families due to the influx of immigration.

 

 

New York Chinatown (1981-1984)
Chinese New Year, 1984
New York Chinatown (1981-1984)
Mrs. Chiu in her apartment, 1981

 

After 30 years, Bud Glick revisited the series and decided to scan it in order to make large prints of the negatives. “It’s exciting to revisit personal work that I did more than 30 years ago and interpret it digitally, a process that allows me the ability to get more out of a negative than I ever could in the darkroom. I’m able to give new life to old work.” Glick tells us. He also shared that he was not really satisfied from the first prints of the negatives but now with the assistance of Photoshop he was able to get closer to his original intent.

 

 

New York Chinatown (1981-1984)
Bachelor Apartment, Mr. Ng, Bayard St. 1982
New York Chinatown (1981-1984)
Bachelor Apartment, Mr. Ng, Bayard St. 1982
New York Chinatown (1981-1984)
Garment Factory, 1982

 

Revisiting his work also gave Glick a different sense about his work. He said that with the passage of time, the series has taken on new meaning and importance to him. He tells us: “I realize how much NY and NY Chinatown have changed since the early ’80s. What seemed current and normal to me at the time, now feels like a record of a different era. The early 1980’s was a unique time in the history of New York Chinatown. With the passage of time, I see how my documentation of Chinatown life can both communicate what it felt like to live in Chinatown at that time and inform our current societal discussion of immigration.” 

 

 

New York Chinatown (1981-1984)
Henry St.,1982
New York Chinatown (1981-1984)
Columbus Park, 1983
New York Chinatown (1981-1984)
Division St., 1982
New York Chinatown (1981-1984)
Rebecca with her children in their kitchen, 1982

 

As for future plans, Glick says he wants to have the photographs exhibited or be put in a book. “I am still learning from revisiting this project. I think that exposure to the reality of other peoples’ lives always challenges our preconceived notions and can open our minds to seeing the world from someone else’s point of view,” Glick notes.

 

 

New York Chinatown (1981-1984)
Funeral, 1982
New York Chinatown (1981-1984)
Produce distributor, Bayard St.,1982
NY-Chinatown-Bud-Glick-43
Tony, Catherine St., 1981
New York Chinatown (1981-1984)
Mr. Soo, East Broadway, 1982
New York Chinatown (1981-1984)
Grandfather with his grandson, Eldridge St., 1983

 

To know more about the series or see more of Bud Glick’s work, you can head to his website, budglickphoto.com. Don’t forget to visit the Museum of Chinese in America’s (MOCA) website as well to learn more about the history and the diverse experiences of people of Chinese descent in the United States.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Patrick Jude Ilagan is a graphic designer/photographer hailing from the vast jungles of urban Manila. Always on the look out for visually appealing stuff he scours the internet and the bustling city in search of inspiration. His tools for mass creation is a Canon 500D along with a wide array of lights and lenses plus a 4 year old (but still fighting) laptop. Check out his work on Tumblr.

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