Arlene Gottfried is a New York original. Hailing from Brooklyn, Ms. Gottfried moved from Coney Island to Crown Heights when she was just ten years old, living in the area during the 1960s, as white flight and Civil Rights changed the face of the neighborhood. In the 1970s, Gottfried lived in the Village while studying photography at F.I.T. After her father had died, the family moved to the Lower East Side. Back then, it was a Puerto Rican neighborhood, rich in traditions native to the island, which, when combined with local influence, produced its very own style: Nuyorican.
Nuyorican is rhythms, horns, strings, and winds—or it is simply spoken word filling the air. Best exemplified by Miguel Piñero’s Nuyorican Poet’s Café, it is a state of mind in the place to be. Nuyorican is a street vendor selling fried codfish fritters and fireworks on July 4, announcing his wares as he made his way up and down the street shouting: “Bacalaitos y Fireworks!”
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Photo: Puerto Rican Day Parade. ©Arlene Gottfried, courtesy of Daniel Cooney Fine Art.