I have lived in the NYC neighborhood of Tribeca since 1984. My apartment is a rental – the complex I live in is one of 3 high rise towers named Independence Plaza. I live on the 39th floor of “Building 1” – the northernmost of the three 39 story towers.The three towers and attached townhouses, erected in 1974, were intended to be luxury rentals, but at that time Tribeca was mostly non-residential. There were practically no grocery stores, pharmacies, and the like to support a residential community. It was considered a “pioneer” neighborhood. The only residents were artists in legal and illegal live/work lofts.
In order to attract occupants, the complex was converted to NY state subsidized middle-income housing until 2004 when the buildings were again sold and the subsidies were removed. Some tenants were forced out, others remained, and the vacated apartments were renovated and rented to new tenants paying premium market rents. The neighborhood had changed dramatically since the mid-1970s.
When my neighbors and I first moved into our apartments, we had to qualify officially as “middle income” – we are teachers, nurses, artists, musicians, civil servants, social workers, writers. We have rented in Manhattan for years, working to pay our rent and bills and enjoy life in New York. Many of us, like myself, raised our families here.The high cost of living has made it difficult to save for retirement, and many of us don’t own any real estate that can be sold for profit. We have contributed to the diversity of our neighborhood and our city.
For the past several years I have been photographing the original and long - term tenants of Independence Plaza. I am making portraits of residents in their apartments and in the common areas of the complex. My intention is to illustrate the distinctive mix of the people and the created comfort of their residences. Every apartment may have the same parquet floors and bathroom layouts, but people have in many cases transformed the mid-1970’s layouts into real homes. There's a real bond among the original tenants; we have seen each other's kids grow up, and have shown up for their funerals and joyous celebrations. When I visit my neighbors and photograph them, I listen to their stories about the neighborhood and realize how important it is to maintain this feeling of community in our city.