New York

New York Local Shops

New York City is known throughout the world as a center of global finance, commerce and fashion. Yet New York is also a city of neighborhoods and nowhere is the sense of local identity more obvious than on the neighborhood shopping streets. Local, “mom and pop” retailing has long been part of the urban texture or New York life. And because the majority of New York’s shopkeepers are immigrants, the local shopping street is often the space in which newcomers and long-time New Yorkers first encounter each other. Indeed, for many New Yorkers the shopping street is where the City’s fabled diversity actually happens in everyday life.

Today, however, many of these local shopping streets are under threat. Skyrocketing rents and rapid gentrification are transforming local shopping streets and the local character they embody. In the process much of what distinct about the City is being lost.

The local shops project selected two New York shopping streets to conduct a closer examination of these processes: Orchard Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and Fulton Street in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. Both are long time retail centers in poor and working class neighborhoods, close to the center of the City. Both are in areas traditionally associated with ethnic minorities: Bedford Stuyvesant is a long time African American neighborhood; the Lower East Side was well known for decades as a center of Jewish immigrant life, although in recent years its population has become predominantly Hispanic and Asian. And both areas have undergone rapid gentrification in recent years.

By conducting interviews with shop keepers, observing the streets, collecting statistical data and documenting the aesthetics of retail spaces, our New York research team (Laura Braslow, Benjamin Haber, Jacob Lederman, Sara Martucci, Greg Narr, Julia Nast, Vanessa Paul, Samantha Saghera, Tommy Wu, Fang Xu, Philip Kasinitz and Sharon Zukin)  documented how globalization, international migration and gentrification have transformed the two streets, sometimes in similar but often in strikingly different ways.

Phil Kasinitz


Gallery with photos from New York:

Old Orchard St. Sidewalk sales

Fulton St. new cafe

New Orchard Street restaurant

Tenement Museum walking tour

Fulton St. fabrics

Orchard St. facades

Fulton St. health foods

Fulton St. Old + new


Click here to view the photos on Flickr


Orchard Street video

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *