TIME TRAVEL: Photographer Captured New York’s Chinatown in the 1980s

By Anthony Galasso

 IMAGE: Bud Glick

IMAGE: Bud Glick

Like most big city neighborhoods at one point or another, New York’s Chinatown underwent a massive transformation in the 1980s. Photographer, and apparent world traveler, Bud Glick sought to document the changes that were occurring as the neighborhood was slowly replaced by a new influx of immigrants.

Glick gathered portraits of Chinese immigrants in the streets more than 30 years ago. These photos were collected and curated as part of the New York Chinatown History Project, now the Museum of Chinese in America.

“It’s exciting to revisit personal work that I did more than 30 years ago and interpret it digitally, a process that allows me the ability to get more out of a negative than I ever could in the darkroom,” he tells The Atlantic. “I’m able to give new life to old work. More importantly, time has changed me and the way that I see the work. I’ve found images, overlooked in the past, that due to the passage of time have taken on new meaning and import.”

From Chinese storefronts and garment factories to big celebrations and even funerals, Glick captured them all. One major focus of the project was to capture images of the bachelor society living in Chinatown, a disproportionately large group of men living in Chinatown without their families.

Slate explains that these older men were forced to live without their families due to the Chinese Exclusion Act enacted in 1882 to block immigration of Chinese laborers into the United States. They came to work in the U.S., likely sending money home to their families in China with the hope that they’d someday join them. Once the Exclusion Act was enacted, families were barred from entering the country. Should the men currently living in America have left, they would’ve been excluded from re-entering. Therefore, these men stayed in the States alone for the benefits of their families.

Check out a few of the photos below and view the Glick’s entire catalog of photos from Chinatown and more here.


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