By: Raymond Guarini, Italian Enclaves Historical Society
As the days and months go by, Bensonhurst’s landscape changes rapidly. Businesses close frequently and homes are put up for sale. With the exodus from Bensonhurst accelerating due to the pandemic, I decided to quickly finish photographing the visual aspects of the neighborhood that showcase the Italian culture that has become synonymous with it.
Since the areas of South Brooklyn that have consistently been considered Italian neighborhoods are so vast in relation to square miles, it takes a lot of time to be thorough. Sadly, the rate at which businesses close and the residential landscape changes, makes the task of photo documenting everything very daunting. Some of these neighborhoods include Gravesend, Bensonhurst/Mapleton, part of Borough Park, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, and even elements of Bay Ridge.
Have you ever seen a perfect sunset and tried to take a photo, posing to get the perfect shot only to find that the sun dipped down below the horizon faster than a photo could be appropriately snapped? This is the fleeting situation that is akin to photographing the Italian Neighborhoods of New York City and other major cities amidst one of the largest demographic transitions we may have ever seen in American society. This is a whole other discussion, but the result is that I am left with fewer and fewer subjects to document and must coordinate my time more conservatively and expeditiously so that I can accurately document them before they are gone.
I expect there to be at least ten parts to the “A Walk Around Bensonhurst” series of posts to accurately represent the neighborhood’s rich Italian influence, however diminishing.
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