Implosion of Montgomery Gardens #1
Residents, spectators and news crews gather to watch the implosion of the housing project complex known as Montgomery Gardens.
On August 29, 2015, the housing projects known as Montgomery Gardens were imploded. The site was undoubtedly a place of violence and criminal activity, but considering there were around 1200 units, I find it hard to believe that majority of its residents were the cause of this reputation; leading the actions of few to determine the fate of many. The choice to live wherever one wishes is a privilege granted by socioeconomic status that is unlikely to be remedied anytime soon. If at all.
Implosion of Montgomery Gardens #2
A man reads the newspaper while waiting for the implosion event to begin.
Implosion of Montgomery Gardens #4
People watch as Montgomery Gardens is destroyed.
Implosion of Montgomery Gardens #5
With the buildings destroyed, people begin to leave the area before the dust from the collapse of the housing projects reaches them. Those that call that street home were left to deal with the aftermath.
Homage to the Fallen
No 187 Lackn
A violent affirmation is written on the entrance of 563 Montgomery Street in Jersey City, NJ.
No Client, No Sale
Businesses targeting a specific ethnic demographic face the biggest challenges during rapid gentrification. When their core customer is driven out, and a new demographic moves in, there’s often no longer a need for the products that were meant to serve the community that couldn’t find what they needed at common retail locations. That’s capitalism; it’s true, but there’s still a part of me that empathizes with these entrepreneurs — particularly owners who themselves identify with the ethnicity they provide services for — who have to close their doors simply because their people no longer exist.
Jerome must have seen me photographing in the streets before he eagerly approached me to ask a question. “You ever take pictures of the guys doing this job? We the ones out here actually making sure this place looks good, but it doesn’t seem like too many people care. This company helps a lot of guys fresh out the penitentiary have work - they helped me.” His energy during our conversation left me no doubt that he is a strong-minded man who is proud of working, but it was also obvious he was frustrated with others potentially looking down on him and his colleagues for doing a job every community can’t live without. His parting words were a plea to change how people perceive them, if I was in the position to do so.
Bobby has been employed by CDS for a little over one year. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts, and an Associate of Science in Culinary Arts; he made several references to being an educated fool due to certain life decisions that lead to unfortunate results. When he’s not helping to keep the community clean, he does superintendent work at a midsize building along with other small gigs as they come up. Bobby reflects the lives of so many Americans, working multiple jobs to stay afloat, but for him, that isn’t something negative. “While I’m alive, I wanna live. Apart of living is going through the realities of life. I don’t have time to rest. Everyone is going to rest eventually if you know what I mean.”
A retired boxer, Robert Evans’ last fight was a decision loss against Trevor Berbick on November 24, 1987. “When you go home, watch the fight and tell me who won. There’s a lot of bullshit in boxing.” I asked him how he ended up out here doing work for CDS keeping the area clean, and he explained that he was receiving social security benefits, but was extremely bored and needed some way to spend his time. “I would still be boxing if I could.” Few individuals are fortunate enough to be able to truly retire, but boredom is a story I’ve heard in the past as a motivator for finding work. Robert is yet another important contributor to the success of a gentrifying area that who will likely be overlooked.
Politics, and Cultural Diversity #1
Jersey City’s division of Cultural Affairs certainly has important decisions to make when it comes to inclusion regarding the most diverse city in the entire country. This photograph was taken during the Sister Cities Signing Ceremony in which members of the delegation of west district of Ghana and Jersey City came together to commit to an allegiance of friendship, and learning about cultural and economic affairs. Here, Nanu Poku performs a dance for the audience in attendance.
A Gentleman Named Charles
I approached Charles to see if he knew anything about the privatization of Liberty State Park that was generating so much buzz at the time. He didn’t know much about it, but he did explain that he hopes they leave the park alone. Charles had just lost his wife. He told me that ever since she passed away, watching the water was an extremely calming act that wouldn’t exist if there was high traffic due to increased activity from businesses moving in.
“It’s one of the few places you can go for free and clear your mind in this city.”