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South Street

Barbara G. Mensch

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Paper, 192 pages, 133 Photographs
ISBN: 978-0-231-13933-5
$24.95 / £16.95

April, 2007
Cloth, 192 pages, 133 Photographs
ISBN: 978-0-231-13932-8
$39.95 / £27.95

South Street is Barbara G. Mensch's evocative tribute to the lost world of Lower Manhattan's Fulton Fish Market. For more than a century, a colorful, tightly knit community of fishmongers, many of them recent immigrants and children of immigrants, thrived under the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. Resistant to government regulations and corporate encroachment, these men lived in a closed, internally policed world that was deeply hostile to outsiders.

As a young photographer in the early 1980s, Mensch bonded with this particular group of "authentic New Yorkers," becoming a confidante for their life stories, which were often filled with hardship, mystery, and misadventures. These striking photographs capture the unique personality and fierce secrecy of their vibrant working-class culture. Combined with lively commentary—reminiscent of Studs Terkel's riveting oral histories—the images offer a rare peek inside a society described by Philip Lopate as "a precious last vestige of historic Gotham."

Mensch's story ends with the closure of the docks and the opening of the Seaport mall, a symbolic victory of corporate interests over more than a century of mob rule. Her visual essay recounts the driving forces and the effects of this urban transformation on the entrenched community of fishmongers, creating an enduring historical document. Though the Fulton Fish Market no longer resides below the Brooklyn Bridge, the history and energy of this cherished New York City landmark are beautifully preserved in this book.

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About the Author

Barbara G. Mensch is a New York artist who has exhibited in the United States and Europe, at venues including The Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art; The Municipal Art Society of New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Lowe Gallery; The Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris; Centro Cultural/Arte Contemporaneo in Mexico City; and Photokina in Cologne, Germany. Her work has been published in Natural History, Inc., Metropolis, and The New York Times, among many other periodicals, and she has contributed to a number of books, including Cityscapes: A History of New York in Images. Some collections including her work are The Brooklyn Museum of Art; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and The Museum of the City of New York. She is represented by the Bonni Benrubi Gallery, Inc. New York.Phillip Lopate currently holds the Adams Chair at Hofstra University, where he is professor of English, and teaches in the MFA program at Bennington College. He has been awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a New York Public Library Center for Scholars and Writers Fellowship, two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and two grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts. A writer of fiction, poetry, and film and architectural criticism, he is the author of numerous books, including Waterfront: A Journey Around Manhattan and Portrait of My Body, which was a finalist for PEN best essay book of the year.

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