[UCP Books]: Harlem: The Unmaking of a Ghetto

“This stunning volume describes the lives of Harlem’s buildings and the activities of its residents. . . . To experience Vergara’s photos is to live, for a spell, in Harlem.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Camilo José 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

The Unmaking of a Ghetto
Camilo José Vergara

Publication date: January 7, 2014 978-0-226-85336-9
International publication date: January 7, 2014 $55.00/£38.50

Award-winning photographer Camilo José Vergara has walked the streets and chronicled Harlem for forty-three years, and Harlem: The Unmaking of a Ghetto is an unprecedented visual record of urban transformation and personal exploration. The project began in 1970, when Vergara started photographing an almost bankrupt New York City. At first, his mission was to document the gradual collapse of this inner-city community. But the neighborhood refused to play the role he expected. Instead, the residents of Harlem taught him that the destiny of depopulated, decaying neighborhoods is not simply a story of continuous decline, culminating in a return to nature. In today’s Harlem, luxury co-ops and condos stand on what were recently empty lots serving as unofficial junkyards and garbage dumps. Blocks long characterized by violence and the illegal drug trade are now among the most prosperous, safe sections of Harlem.

Since 1970, “The Capital of Black America” has evolved from one of the nation’s worst ghettos into a thriving multicultural community. Harlem visually reveals that story of hard times, decline, struggle, and accomplishment.

Camilo José Vergara is a photographer and writer, a MacArthur fellow, and the author of many books. In July he was awarded a National Humanities Medal. He is available for interviews.

Please contact Levi Stahl at (773) 702-0289 or lstahl@press.uchicago.edu  for more information.


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