Dimitri Mellos

Photographer
    
Chinatown
Location: New York City
Nationality: Greek
Biography: Dimitri Mellos was born in Athens, Greece, but since 2005 has been living in New York City. He studied philosophy and psychology. As a child, he used to walk around with an old Kodak Instamatic camera (with no film loaded), pretending to be... MORE
Public Story
Chinatown
Copyright Dimitri Mellos 2022
Date of Work Dec 1969 - Ongoing
Updated Jun 2019
Location New York City
Topics Chinatown, Chinese, Chinese-American, Documentary, Editorial, Essays, Immigrants, Photography, Photojournalism, Street, Travel
New York City’s Chinatown is just about the only neighborhood in Manhattan that still
retains some of the atmosphere of old New York, a city that was not as sterilized and
gentrified as it has become. In this part of town, recent immigrants are still making a
new home in America—in many of the same tenement buildings that housed
generations of poor immigrants from eastern and southern Europe more than a century
ago. Arguably, in no other part of today’s New York does the past still feel so alive.
However, even Chinatown is, inexorably, gradually succumbing to the forces of
modernization and gentrification. Grocery stores are shutting down and old apartment
buildings are being demolished in order to make way for fancy new hotels, coffee shops,
boutique stores, art galleries, and the like.

I am anguished to see Chinatown start losing its character right before my eyes, and the
act of photographing affords me the illusory comfort that I am preserving a few bits and
pieces of what life in this vibrant immigrant community has been like, in a form
impervious to the passage of time. My work is fueled by a sense of loss and nostalgia
foretold.

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