August 24, 2009

Requiem for a City

Photographer Harvey Wang has spent much of his life photographing The Other Half, an increasingly endangered species in new New York.

Adam Rosen

"My mother was an alcoholic, my father was something of a tyrant, and I just never fit in. So I moved here in '61. Started off with these crazy, soaring ambitions of trying to figure out everything…Anyhow, I became disillusioned. Started drinking. And here I am."

So explains Vic K., an afternoon clerk at the Sunshine Hotel, well into the recesses of Flophouse: Life on the Bowery. The Sunshine, along with three other $10-a-night "lodging houses" located in Lower Manhattan's Bowery district, is the setting for Flophouse, an oral history and extended photo essay documenting the famously infamous neighborhood's last pockets of despondency and small triumphs. Though published only nine years ago, Flophouse is now largely an anachronism; atop the skid row it chronicled sit digs such as the Bowery Hotel, which charges $400 a night and boasts C.O. Bigelow Bath Amenities.

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Article by Adam Rosen

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