2007_05_Mensch.jpgAlmost two years after the Fulton Fish Market relocated to Hunts Point, a new book documents the market of days gone by. South Street, published by Columbia University Press, is a collection of photographs by Barbara G. Mensch, who began taking pictures of the fish market when she first moved to a nearby loft in 1979.

The photographs are haunting and intricate, whether they document piles of dead fish on the street or a fishmonger taking a smoking break.

“These are not the usual off-kilter snapshots of the hurly-burly around the stalls, the marketmen staring own at their fish, taken unawares: there is an eye contact, a commitment to see and be seen, a complicity between photographer and subject that makes all the difference,” writes essayist Phillip Lopate in the book's introduction.


So why was the old market – the largest in the Western Hemisphere, the largest on the Atlantic Coast, the oldest wholesale fish market operating continuously in one spot – such a compelling landmark? Lopate explains: “The older it got, the more its funky, handmade ways of doing business seemed a precious last vestige of historic Gotham.”

Some more recent photographs of the Fulton Fish Market: Some by Kerfuffle & Zeitgeist and MacRonin47 has a Flickr set of the fish market's last day.