Harlem: The Unmaking of a Ghetto

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Product Details

University of Chicago Press
Publish Date
11.3 X 9.1 X 1.3 inches | 4.15 pounds

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About the Author

Camilo José Vergara is a photographer and writer, a MacArthur fellow, and the author of many books.


"Camilo Jose Vergara has watched--and photographed--Harlem as it fell apart and then rose back up as something else. He chronicles the passage from poverty to selective luxury, from segregation to selective integration, from street life to tourism. He asks the unanswerable question: Which is preferable?"

--Luc Sante, author of Low Life

"Wandering the streets of Harlem for the past forty years, Camilo Vergara has noticed and miraculously recorded those moments of great human invention that have been largely overlooked by the official chronicles of architecture and urban history. For this reason, his photographs are unique and indispensable."

--Ben Katchor, author of Hand-Drying in America

"Since the 1970s Camilo Jose Vergara's photographs have defined the American urban crisis, and the urban recovery insofar as that has occurred. His images have given rise to a whole international school of urban photography (even if his direct influence is not always acknowledged). He is the Lewis Hine of our time. Vergara has also marched to a different drummer, standing apart both from academic and art-world fashion, and from the celebration of 'the community' over the hard truths of the inner city."

--Robert Fishman, Taubman College of Architecture and Planning, University of Mich

"Despite the singularity implied by the book's title, Camilo Vergara shows us many Harlems, all of them in motion. His still photographs paradoxically enable us to see change by revealing the lingerings and premonitions of an evolving city. He points his camera forward (and backward) in time, not just in space. The result is a fascinating four-decade compendium of visual narratives, reflexively and reflectively assembled by someone acutely aware of his own semi-tolerated presence."

--Lawrence Vale, author of Purging the Poorest