Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Storefronts Of New York (Brooklyn)

from the nytimes city room blog, 4/8/08 an excerpt:
Brooklyn Storefronts as Metaphor for a Changing Borough, By Sewell Chan
Paul Lacy, 50, has lived in Brooklyn for all but two years since 1983. He has worked as a factory night watchman and an apprentice furniture maker. Now he does freelance page layout for publishers of science and technical books. But Mr. Lacy’s real passion — like that of so many New Yorkers who are defined as much by their hobbies as their day jobs — is street photography. He has just published his first book, “Brooklyn Storefronts,” a collection of 75 color photographs of small, independently owned stores throughout the borough.
City Room first noticed the book, which W. W. Norton published as a paperback last month, during a visit to the Whitney Biennial; it was on sale in the gift shop. More than merely documenting the great variety of small businesses in Brooklyn, it provides a glimpse of the often rapid social and economic change that many residents fear is transforming Brooklyn neighborhoods and threatening the unique enterprises that have long made them distinctive.
In a phone interview, Mr. Lacy said he began photographing the storefronts a few years ago, often encountering subjects while riding his bicycle, whether to get some exercise, take a break from work or check out new restaurants.
“I knew northern Brooklyn and coastal Brooklyn, but I didn’t know the central Brooklyn area where I was to move,” he said. “In a way, I was exploring all the places that I would then patronize. If I saw a place that repaired vacuum cleaners, I would think, ‘Hey, I should remember that.’ ”
The images, taken since 2001, certainly reflect the eclectic nature of Brooklyn commerce — and of Mr. Lacy’s tastes. The images invite all sorts of questions. Who would have guessed that there was a taxidermist shop at 964 Jamaica Avenue in Cypress Hills, on the Brooklyn-Queens border? What is shown or performed at the Impact Theater at 190 Underhill Avenue in Prospect Heights? What kinds of “statuettes” and “variety items” are sold at Féraille Botanica at 616 Flatbush Avenue, in Flatbush? Are there other sins besides alcohol at the Sin City Lounge, at 59 Montrose Street in Williamsburg? What does the Egyptian iconography signify outside the Smai Tawi Afrakan Kultural Wellness and Martial Art Center, at 106 Kingston Avenue in Crown Heights — and what explains the unusual spelling?

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