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I was born and grew up in what is now called the South Bronx. After twenty years away, I returned in 1975, to a neighborhood in ruins. The sturdy well-constructed buildings that had once housed tens of thousands of people were gutted and burned out. South of the Cross Bronx Expressway East on 173rd Street
Going to church on a Sunday morning. One of the high school students told me she was going to be a dental assistant. The other two said they wanted to be models. Mother and daughter, Claremont Parkway
Bathgate Avenue Sisters on Bathgate Avenue Mother and daughter, East 173rd Street
The African American churches, many of which had been synagogues, were a bulwark against the encroaching disintegration. Martin Luther King Jr. Health Center on Bathgate Avenue The kids played baseball using the parking meter as second base. The runner was safe.
The daily domino game in front of the Social Club He said, "Want a ghetto shot? I'll give you a ghetto shot!" And he drew a bayonet from under his jacket. It was the day that the last building on Bathgate Avenue was being sealed up before demolition. The city marshals were evicting all the remaining families. Nelson's family was being sent to an apartment where no dogs were allowed. He knew that if the dog ended up in the pound, he'd be "put away." We couldn't find a home for the dog. Many of the people who were being evicted were supposed to go to a "welfare hotel." There were no other options. People were scared and depressed ...
South Bronx site of the 1980 "People's Convention" in opposition to the Democratic Party's nominating convention downtown. On Bathgate Avenue where the fire hydrant functioned as the community's well. The last building left standing in the neighborhood was on the East 173rd through 174th Street block.  A few days after this picture was made, the building was bulldozed and the people who lived there were sent to shelters and single room occupancy hotels.
When I looked for her to give her the picture, her building had burned and she had moved.

All images © Mel Rosenthal