Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Pictures for Posterity"

From the Wall Street Journal:

In fast-changing Long Island City, Frank Carrado is trying to hang on.

Known as the honorary "mayor" of the Queens neighborhood, Mr. Carrado can be found, week after week, holding court in the Dorian Cafe, a quaint restaurant a couple of blocks from the East River. He holds no official title and has no official constituents.

But the 80-year-old Korean War veteran and life-long resident of Long Island City has become a bit of a local celebrity for his efforts to capture the area's semi-industrial townscape before it completely succumbs to gentrification.

His tool is a camera.

In 2005, Mr. Carrado, then 75, began a quest to record in pictures a city on the cusp of architectural reinvention. Armed with a digital camera given to him by his daughter (he's "not like these guys with a $500 camera," he'll have you know), he began roaming the streets of Long Island City to snap photos of the buildings next in line for the developer's scythe.

Speaking on recent weekend afternoon in his "office" at the Dorian, Mr. Carrado said he had a simple motive in mind with his pictures: He wants to leave the next generation with some sort of record of how his neighborhood used to be.

"It was for the children, so that when they grow up, they can look back at all this and see what the neighborhood was like," said Mr. Carrado, whose pictures were on display at the Greater Astoria Historical Society for several years until 2009.


Anonymous said...

Good to see some are documenting the buildings with character before it turns into another Battery Park city or Jersey City Heights bland poorly built condo yuppie area.

Anonymous said...

Not for nothing, but I know of at least 15 other old guys who are also known as "The Mayor of LIC".

Anonymous said...

....Regardless, nice work from this guy. Keep it up!

Gary the Agnostic said...

Mr. Carrado is doing something wonderful. It's unfortunate that there aren't more people doing work like this. Go back to the 1930s and look at Berenice Abbott's photography. She wanted to show how the city was changing at that point, and published in in a work entitled "Changing New York".

Her photographs were tremendous and documented the city that was about to disappear. There's several photographs of the parts of Brooklyn Heights that Robert Moses wiped out in building the BQE; there's a picture of the old Jamaica Town Hall that was located at Jamaica Avenue and Parsons Boulevard.

Neighborhoods that are being McMansioned and Yuppied to death need to be documented now before it's too late.

Anonymous said...

i took photos of the three original 60' x 100' homes that were demolished,to be replaced by no lawns or trees and driveways where car doors cannot be opened,
at brick two x two family tiny dwellings.

it might help to check a friendly old real estate office to retrieve original listing photos from MULTIPLE LISTING.

Deke DaSilva said...

Contrast Frank Carrado with another photographer from a day ago, Dominick Totino, who gets paid $85,000 to take vanity shots of Helen Marshall.

Which guy's photographs will be remembered 10, 20, 50 years from now?

One guy is obviously a political hack - Totino.

Carrado is the amateur with passion, doing what he loves for free.

Gary the Agnostic said...

Absolutely right, Deke. Publicity photos go in the file cabinets and stay there. Carrado's work will be remembered by many.

Anonymous said...

I hate that my tax dollar are funding this hack.

Queens Crapper said...

You mean Totino? Because Frank doesn't get a check from the BP's office.

Anonymous said...

I say knock down those wetback built Doomberg / Pataki towers and bring back the industrial job base that was forced out of there to China, so that people like Mr. Carrado DON'T HAVE TO TAKE PICTURES TO PRESERVE OUR CITY'S HISTORY and give this city some jobs again.