Photographer Bud Glick’s photo series Chinatown, NY presents a fascinating look at New York City’s Chinatown in the 1980s, a time when the landscape and population of Chinese residents was undergoing some major changes. Glick writes in his artist statement, “An older generation of Chinatown was being replaced by a rapidly expanding new influx of immigration. As a photographer, my goal was to document the transformation from an older and primarily male community (due to restrictive, discriminatory immigration laws) to a new generation of young families.”
From 1981 to 1984, Glick took to the streets of NYC’s Chinatown with his camera for the New York Chinatown History Project (now the Museum of Chinese in America). Although he didn’t speak any Chinese, he was able to connect with the inhabitants of Chinatown by being respectful and treating them as people instead of foreigners for tourists’ enjoyment. As a result, Glick was able to document the Chinese community in a more nuanced, developed way, presenting a unique historical look at the people and culture at the time.
Glick’s negatives ended up in storage for the last 30 years; it’s only recently that he’s managed to breathe new life into them by unpacking, scanning, and digitally editing the files. He says he’s excited about reviewing his work as a time capsule and showing it to the world. “I wanted to preserve it so it wouldn’t just be sitting in boxes in my home,” he explains. “When you look at images from another time, often many years later, you see things you didn’t see before. . . your photographic style may have been a certain way but we also evolve. . . I saw things photographically that I really liked and saw things that had historical meaning, as well as a personal meaning for me.”