"A late 1980’s Webster’s dictionary, in fact, defines Bowery as a street characterized by flophouses and saloons. The saloons are long gone, having disappeared before the relentless pressures of gentrification. With real estate prices in the neighborhood already sky high, the days of these hotels are numbered.The life experience described here has never been unique to only New York City | Virtually every urban center has had it's flophouses, its' skid rows | Flophouses exist in part to serve those who have experienced misfortunes, and have no place else to go | They are places and areas where some citizens live at the edges of society, outside the fast world, the comfortable world, the monied classes and beyond the opportunities and comforts therefrom afforded those other castes |
"The Bowery’s reputation as a place for jobless and often alcohol- or drug-addicted people notwithstanding, a number of the 50 men whose profiles and photographs are presented here do in fact work. One man does what he calls “independent recycling,” working long days to collect aluminum cans and bottles. In his interview, he speaks of saving up for a van and a storage room as a means of expanding his enterprise."
The lives described are often bleak yet...
"...the... stories [of the residents of flophouses] and the photographs of them and their bleak surroundings, reveal lives marked by a genuine dignity.
Flophouse had its origins, in fact, in a radio documentary based on just one of the hotels, the Sunshine, that premiered on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” The photographs by Harvey Wang,... capture far more than the outward appearance of the men and the hotels they inhabit. Like the interviews themselves, they convey the inner reality of a scene that is rapidly disappearing. We may be the poorer for its loss"