David Gonzalez of the New York Times recently visited a group of 8th grade American studies students at De La Salle Academy on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. As their final project in their News Literacy Project unit this spring, students examined social welfare issues through the camera lens, taking original photographs that spotlight topics ranging from housing to education to income disparities in their school’s neighborhood and the city at large. During his visit, Gonzalez reviewed students’ photographs and shared how the standards of journalism are applied to stories told through the medium of photography.
Students visited the Bronx Documentary Center in the South Bronx as part of their News Literacy unit before embarking on their individual photography projects. Photographs of the Bronx from the 1970s from the exhibit, “Seis del Sur,” provided students with an example of photojournalism and valuable lessons on the ethics of photojournalism.
Jeff Smith, a representative of the Fransiscan Community Center on 97th street between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway says that a few times a week, the center holds a senior program where low-income senior citizens from the neighborhood come and play bingo. These long time residents have breakfast and lunch for very low prices (from 25 cents to 4.00), allowing them to come together and spend time with each other.
The Upper West Side is not just a neighborhood, it is a community says Smith, who has been working at FCC for three years. The FCC is an example of Upper West Side residents acting as community members. The Franciscan Community Center is designed to help the residents of the Upper West Side. They have a thrift store for people to buy clothes at cheap prices, a place for senior citizens, and food servings for people who need it.
– Yeji Yang
New York City, specifically the Upper West Side, has changed a lot over the years says Jeff Smith, a former teacher of 16 years at Holy Name, and a program coordinator at the FCC (a local community center) for the past three years. Smith says when he first started working on the Upper West Side, residents consisted of the middle and lower class individuals, but about twelve years ago the neighborhood began to develop. For example new high-rise buildings began popping up and the rent was expensive. However the FCC still offers programs to help the less fortunate, such as a food service program. Every Monday people can come to the food bank and 100 bags of groceries are given out. There is also a thrift store in the neighborhood run by the FCC and the parish next door. Clothes, shoes, books, CDS, and household goods are sold here at reasonable prices.
Smith spoke about how although this is now a wealthy neighborhood there are still signs of poverty. Which is why places like the thrift store sell people clothes at lower prices. In one of the pictures taken while we were visiting the thrift store, we had met a woman who had brought her daughter with her to go shopping. She was looking for a dress to wear for a local theater production. Even though she was not finding something that she desperately needed, the photograph of her holding her dress captures the thrift shop and the FCCs community intentions, to help the less-fortunate.
LA CASA, an after school program created by Kelley Williams at a learning center on 86th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues, believes that the recent rise of Catholic school closings will affect many minority families. Williams says by creating LACASA, she hopes to give minority families the same opportunities and allow them to access the same experiences as other children.
“Just because a program is free, it does not mean it has to be poor quality” – Ms. Kelly, LACASA Founder
Kelly said this on our class trip to the Hostos Community Center to learn about LACASA’s history and purpose. LACASA is a free after-school program for younger kids. Kelly believes that children’s future depends on the help of the older generations. We took the pictures of the children’s progress (Photos of them working). There were a couple of programs that they offer such as fencing and martial arts to protect themselves from bullying. They required knowing these arts of self-defense because of the type of community they were surrounded by both in their neighborhood and schools.
After she gave an explanation of the history and purpose, there was a point in time where we were allowed to ask questions. I decided to ask, “How was the program changed through about five years, how has the neighborhood changed in the past 10 years.” She said that the program hasn’t exactly changed much because the new program has only opened at September. Kelly said the neighborhood has changed due to the fact that it is mostly a rich neighborhood now. This is how the neighborhoods are changing. The rent prices rise and new people move in.
The Upper West Side is incredibly diverse, and residents share one common issue: housing prices. This neighborhood, despite its many schools, restaurants, stores, and markets, is known for its residential area. Ever since 1947, housing units were being built and landlords were increasing their rent. Out of all the three regions in the Upper West Side, De La Salle Academy’s neighborhood consists of the most amount people who have applied for and are using food stamps. The same goes for public assistance such as heating and cooling to a resident’s convenience in harsh temperatures.
Jeff Smith, a Youth Education Coordinator at Franciscan Community Center, shared his experiences about the Upper West Side. Twelve years ago, there was much more development in the neighborhood. More housing units were built as well as public works. That included high-rise apartments. People once paid moderate rents until more housing units were available. This forced plenty of the neighborhood’s residents out to seek more affordable housing. The newcomers had much more money, and that caused a peak in housing prices. The FCC provides social service programs for the less advantaged. Because numerous residents cannot afford basic necessities, the community center has a food pantry every Monday, where they can pick up multiple groceries.
The Upper West Side is a region in Manhattan containing neighborhoods that can be identified on the sociological level. There are many issues concerning the area but two major ones that have played a role are the urban planning of the region and the housing in these locations. To understand the sociological analysis and deeper meaning of urban planning, it is important to present the issue with the area as well as a complete description of the urban planning and housing in the region. Jeff Smith, from Franciscan Community Center who has lived in the region for decades, describes the effect on the region. Smith describes the area as the following, ” Inequality of Urban Planning has been oppressed. People 18 years ago were middle and lower class but recently new apartments of high class has emerged. There used to be moderated rents, but suddenly there was an emergence of high cost. New people have come to the neighborhood and the neighborhood has transformed.”