Contrasting Neighborhoods/Contratse entre dos Barrios

It was thanks to a generous grant from the Foundation Center, City University of New York at the Kingsborough Community College that allowed me the time to elaborate a photo-essay described bellow; the lead applicant for the grant professor Barbara Walters Ph. D. Academic Director of the Online BA in Sociology at the School of Professional Studies at the Graduate Center CUNY ; was who contacted me and hired me to produce a photo-essay of the visual differences in two contrasting neighborhoods connected on a same “J” subway line: Downtown Manhattan/Wall Street area and Bushwick in Brooklyn.

On the first area is the Commemoration of 9/11: Secularization, Sacralization and Implicit Religion that took our attention, after spending hours talking and sharing our points of view and experience about this issue and how visually has dramatically change in the past years.

At the site were the Twin Towers once stood, the rebuilding is going on for years on a very busy intersection, people from all over the city and the  state of New Jersey commute.

Cranes up and down in the effort to rebuild in Lower Manhattan.

A bell donated by London sits at the back of Saint Paul’s Chapel.

Fue gracias a una generosa beca-donación de la Foundation Center, City University of New York at the Kingsborough Community College que me dió el tiempo necesario para elaborar el ensayo fotográfico abajo descrito, el candidato principal para la concesión profesora Barbara Walters, Ph. D. Directora Académica de la licenciatura en internet de  Sociología Online BA in Sociology at the School of Professional Studies at the Graduate Center CUNY , fué quien se puso en contacto conmigo y me contrató para producir un ensayo fotográfico de las diferencias visuales en dos barrios contrastados conectados en una misma línea del metro “J”: en el Bajo  Manhattan / Wall Street y Bushwick en Brooklyn.

En la primera área es la conmemoración del 9/11: La secularización, sacralización y la religión implícita que llamó nuestra atención, después de pasar horas conversando y compartiendo nuestros puntos de vista y experiencias sobre este tema y como es que el discurso visual ha cambiado drásticamente en los últimos años.

We took time to walk together on the site to compare our conversations with the facts that lay in front of our very eyes. This resulted in a presentation of a Roundtable 3: Pride, Mourning, and Commemoration that Professor Walters and I gave at the Eastern Sociological Society 82nd Annual Meeting, on February 2012 at the Millennium Hotel in NYC.

For starters the earliest and still most commonly used theorem in the sociology of religion is the secularization paradigm. The name was borrowed from the Catholic Church that has used the term “secular” since the dark ages to describe priests working outside religious orders. It gained new meaning in sociology where it began to describe the idea of a decline and negation of religion; scholars such as Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Max Weber, and Émile Durkheim, postulated that the modernization of society would include a decline in levels of religiosity.

Tomamos tiempo y caminamos juntos en el sitio haciendo comparación de nuestras conversaciones y nuestras notas con los hechos que encontramos frente a nuestros ojos. Esto dio lugar a una presentación de una Mesa redonda número 3: El orgullo, el duelo y conmemoración que la profesora Walters y yo dimos en la Eastern Sociological Society Meeting 82nd , en febrero de 2012 en el Hotel Millennium en Nueva York.

Para empezar el más antiguo y todavía común teorema en la sociología de la religión es el paradigma de la secularización. El nombre fue tomado de la Iglesia Católica, que ha utilizado el término “secular” desde la Edad Media para describir a los sacerdotes que trabajan fuera de las órdenes religiosas. Tomó un nuevo significado en la sociología donde se comenzó a describir la idea de un decaimiento y la negación de la religión, los estudiosos como Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Max Weber y Emile Durkheim, postularon que la modernización de la sociedad incluiría una disminución en los niveles de religiosidad.

Saint Paul’s Chapel, was the center for all who help in the removal of all the debris of what was known as “the pile” looking for survivors after the attack on the Twin Towers. The Police the Firefighters and volunteers slept and eat here while regaining strength before returning back to work.

Now Saint Paul’s Chapel has become a museum for all the mementos of 9/11, here is a bed used for the volunteers at “The Pile”.

One of the most lives lost from all the volunteers at the site of the attack on 9/11 was the NYFD.

All in the city were somehow reunited together after the tragedy of loosing so many lives.

All the world showed concern and sent lots of messages of encouragement and solidarity.

Memorial Table at the Saint Paul’s Chapel…

Moment of praying at the main hall at Saint Paul’s Chapel…

According to Douglas A. Marshall from the University of Alabama: “A theory of sacralization is offered in which the sacred emerges from the collision of temptation and tradition. It is proposed that when innate or acquired desires to behave in one-way conflict with socially acquired and/or mediated drives to behave in another way, actors ascribe sacredness to the objects of their action as a means of reconciling the difference between their desired and actual behavior toward those objects.”

In the words of Meerten ter Borg a sociologist of religion and retiring Professor of Non-Institutional Religion at Leiden University, in the Netherlands: “After years of fruitful debate on ‘implicit religion’ it is worth asking: where did it bring us? It led to a focus on ‘religious’, on sense-making aspects in fields where least expected. Thus I was able to point out strong traces of ‘implicit religiosity’ in the world of economics and medicine. I discovered implicit religious aspects in art, the media and in politics. I recognized a strong connection between sense making and power. I became notorious in the Netherlands as the man who not only labeled practically everything as religion, from spontaneous adoration and mourning (Lady Di), to football.”

De acuerdo con Douglas A. Marshall de la Universidad de Alabama: “Una teoría de la sacralización se ofrece en la que lo sagrado surge de la colisión de la tentación y la tradición. Se propone que cuando los deseos innatos o adquiridos a comportarse en los conflictos de una vía son socialmente adquiridos y / o unidades de mediación para comportarse de otra manera, los agentes atribuyen a los objetos un carácter sagrado asi su acción como un medio de conciliar la diferencia entre su deseo y el comportamiento real hacia esos objetos. ”

En las palabras de Meerten ter Borg un sociólogo de la religión y profesor retirarado de la No-Institucional Religión en la Universidad de Leiden, en Holanda: “Después de años de fructífero debate sobre la religión implícita” vale la pena preguntarse: ¿A dónde nos llevan? Esto condujo a un enfoque en la “religiosidad”, en tomar sentido de los aspectos en los campos donde menos se esperaban. Así tuve la oportunidad de señalar los rastros fuertes de la “religiosidad implícita” en el mundo de la economía y la medicina. Descubrí aspectos religiosos implícitos en el arte, los medios de comunicación y en la política. Me di cuenta de una fuerte conexión entre la toma de sentido y poder. Que me hizo famoso en los Países Bajos como el hombre que no sólo etiqueta prácticamente todo a la religión, de la adoración espontánea y el duelo (Lady Di), hasta el fútbol. ”

At the Construction site we can see banners at the side of the American flag from the workers…

On the Trinity Church cemetery, the origin of us all according to their Religion, Adam and Eve…

On September 11th 2001, debris from the collapsing World Trade Center knocked over a giant sycamore tree that had stood for nearly a century in the churchyard of Saint Paul’s Chapel. Sculptor Steve Tobin used its roots for this sculpture.

Side entrance of the New York Stock Exchange.

At the corner of Wall Street and Broad the NYSE main front elevation , inside is located the the NYSE floor it is by far the world’s largest stock exchange by market capitalization of its listed companies at Us. Dlls. $14.242 trillion as of December of 2011.

After the 9/11 attacks the security is tight at Wall Street, also with the movement of Occupy Wall Street at two blocks away, -see posting bellow- only workers and traders were able to get into the area…

View of of the George Washington sculpture at the Federal Hall were he took the Oath as First President of the United States on April 30th 1789.

Mounted Police securing the area surrounding Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange, so nobody can be disturbed on the floor while making millions…

Mounted Police securing the area surrounding Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange, so nobody can be disturbed on the floor while making millions…

I must say that is in no way that I pretend to be an expert on this area, it was thanks to the conversations leading to this photo-essay with Professor Barbara Walters and her vast knowledge in the area that sparked my curiosity on her expertise as Sociologist. I must agree with professor Meerten ter Borg and add that is also an attitude as fanatics in Implied Religion what is probably what we are observing now. As we watch the long lines of pilgrims from all over the country and from around the world leading to the 9/11 Memorial, we cannot help ourselves but to ask: What kind of sociological phenomena are we witnessing?

A few stops away on the “J” Subway line, the contrast of a gentrified Bushwick is a slap on the face. After the riots, arson and looting that took place on the night of July 13th 1977, this ever-changing neighborhood has come on his feet as the Phoenix from the ashes of burned buildings, but is the close neighborhood population who is moving in and cashing out: “Williamsburg” population has set eyes on here, and is on the graffiti that we can observe the changing times from the anonymous artist to the new signed painted walls that it is how marks the difference of today’s graffiti artists. This visual marking’s on the neighborhood is where we can observe the gradation throughout time portrayed by artists on the Bushwick walls.

Debo decir que no es de ninguna manera que yo pretendo ser un experto en esta materia, fue gracias a las conversaciones que culminaron con este ensayo fotográfico con la profesora Barbara Walters y sus vastos conocimientos en el área que despertó mi curiosidad sobre su experiencia como Socióloga. Estoy de acuerdo con el profesor Meerten ter Borg y debo añadir que es también una actitud de fanáticos de la religión implícita lo que probablemente es lo que estamos observando ahora. Al mirar las largas filas de peregrinos de todo el país y de todo el mundo que conduce a la Memorial 9/11, no podemos dejar de preguntarnos: ¿Qué tipo de fenómenos sociológicos es el que estamos presenciando?

Pilgrims from all over the coutry and around the world making lines to pay a visit to the 9/11 site. What kind of sociological phenomena are we witnessing?

A cross that was forged with debris from the World Trade Center is located to the side of Saint Peters Church, at the bottom is a metal book with all the victims names engraved on it.

A pocas paradas del metro en la línea “J”, el contraste de una aburguesada población en Bushwick es una bofetada en la cara. Después de los disturbios, incendios y saqueos que tuvieron lugar en la noche del 13 de julio de 1977, este barrio en constante cambio se ha puesto de pie como el ave fénix de las cenizas de edificios quemados, pero es la población del barrio cercano que se está moviendo aqui, aprovechandose de su poder adquisitivo: “Williamsburg” la población ha puesto sus ojos aquí, y es en el graffiti que se puede observar los tiempos de cambio de los artistas anónimos a los nuevos murales firmados; las paredes pintadas es en donde vemos la marca que hace la diferencia de los artistas de graffiti de hoy en día. Es en esta paredes que han marcando el barrio y es donde podemos observar la gradación en el tiempo representado por los artistas en los murales de Bushwick.

Anonymous graffiti in Bushwick on the side of a auto workshop.

Trendy is in at Bushwick so landlords are transforming the once subdivided apartments into open spaces for the newcomers.

Mexican Stores sprung for over a decade in Bushwick bringing not only colors but ancient traditions with it.

New luxury apartments entrance hall across the Maria Hernandez park.

At the window of this Mexican Bakery across Maria Hernandez Park shows the various Mexican art crafts for different celebrations held during the year.

Graffiti that bears a signature Wurst Bande.

Cafetería Taqueria with good Mexican food in Bushwick.

Anonymous Graffiti, vandalized…

New row houses that were sold by the NYC Housing Authority. Were building were burnt during the riots.

Engine 218 from the New York Fire Department stands alone surrounded by empty lots of once busy buildings in Buswhick.

From the ashes the sprung of new Condos can be noticed in Bushwick.

Blocks and blocks of new housing developed by the NYC Housing Authority.

Mural at “El Puente” Community Center at the side of Saint Barbara Catholic Church in Bushwick.

A cooperative grocery store, with the front Graffiti.

This new High Rise condo building maybe rezoning the area in Bushwick.

Anonymous Graffiti in Bushwick.

On what is known as Doctors row, several house were spare from the riots.

Anonymous Graffiti.

Anonymous Graffiti.

Anonymous Graffiti.

Anonymous Graffiti.

The landlords in the area subdivided their properties to accommodate the new flow of immigrants mostly Hispanic: Ecuadorians and Mexicans moving to Bushwick area, in the early to mid eighties and we have to recognize that they were the vital force that made possible the revival in Bushwick.

Stores, Delis and Restaurants started to appear, making the area more livable, also the intervention of the City Housing Authority of NYC, played a pivotal rule in such revival. The once subdivided spaces are now being transform, and the walls rip down to give a fresh look to the “New Lofts” in Bushwick, even Galleries from Chelsea, Manhattan are moving in; on what is starting to be known as the “New Artist Mecca” in Brooklyn. Marking once again a new era of gentrification in the area as we have witnessed for over more than hundred years in different neighborhoods at this multicultural ever changing tapestry known as the “Melting Pot” that is New York City.

Los dueños de edificios de la zona subdividieron sus propiedades para dar cabida al nuevo flujo de inmigrantes en su mayoría Hispanos: Ecuatorianos y Mexicanos que se desplazaban a la zona de Bushwick, a mediados de los años ochenta y tenemos que reconocer que ellos fueron la fuerza vital que hacieron posible el renacimiento en Bushwick .

Tiendas, Delis y restaurantes comenzaron a aparecer, haciendo que la zona fuera más habitable, también la intervención de la Autoridad de Vivienda de la Ciudad de Nueva York, jugó una regla fundamental en la reactivación de la comunidad. Los espacios, una vez subdivididos ahora se estan transformando, y las paredes se estan removiendo para dar un aire nuevo a los “nuevos” Lofts en Bushwick, incluso galerías de Chelsea, Manhattan se están cambiando, en lo que se está empezando a conocer como la “Nueva Meca Artística” en Brooklyn. Marcando una vez más una nueva era de aburguesamiento de la zona como hemos visto por más de cien años en diferentes barrios en este tapiz multicultural en constante cambio que es conocido como el “Melting Pot”, Nueva York.

Personally this project has been a test journey on the vast panorama that the five boroughs of New York City offer to the visually curios.

Personalmente este proyecto ha sido un viaje de prueba en el vasto panorama que ofrecen los cinco condados de Nueva York al curioso visual.

Marco Castro

For more information:

Douglas A. Marshall from the University of Alabama

Meerten ter Borg is a sociologist of religion and Professor of Non-Institutional Religion at Leiden University, the Netherlands. Bushwick Open Arts Studios.


About marcocastrophotography

An avid story teller I have my long time affair with photography on the film/analog era back in my home town México City; it was when I started to work on my craftsmanship, I moved to the digital revolution, producing and shooting my own personal assignments on still images and video as well for several clients around the Tri-State area where I am for hire!
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