My ongoing series documenting the Mom & Pop shops of Astoria, Queens, seeks to preserve the rapidly changing face of Astoria through photography and storytelling, while facilitating a conversation among the diverse residents of my neighborhood. A majority of these Mom & Pop businesses are disappearing due to Astoria’s gentrification, a process which began in the 1990s.

Each photograph launches an anthropological study of Astoria's residents, their businesses and livelihoods. One’s workspace becomes their second home and is frequently decorated with family photos and memorabilia. The curated items placed behind the counters or by the registers begin to illustrate an order amongst the disorder. These utilitarian interiors serve as ever-changing, still-life landscapes, while also becoming portraits in and of themselves.

I am particularly interested in the narratives of different immigrant communities which have shaped Astoria, as I come from a family of immigrants myself who immigrated to Astoria in the late 1960s from Greece. These histories must be understood not only through the great monuments of the area, but also the grocery stores, places of worship, bars, and small shops. This project seeks to connect Astoria’s residents to their pasts, to their neighbors, to the wider history of the city, and the immigrant experience.

Manuel, third in a succession of owners, works at Hong’s Shoe Repair, located at 22-60 31st Street, which first opened its doors about 90 years ago. A talented shoe cobbler, he is pictured here in his tiny shop amidst assorted footwear, taking pride in work that inherently touches on the spirit of mending.

Norman bears an inquisitive glance amidst reels of fabric in the Broadway Silk Store, located at 35-11 Broadway. His daughter currently runs the shop which stands as one of the oldest businesses in Astoria, proudly serving its community for over 80 years.

Gary Bartunek proudly stands behind the counter of the oldest hardware store in Astoria, Bartunek Hardware, located at 28-07 23rd Avenue, which was established in 1925 by his grandfather.

La Guli Pastry Shop, a staple in Astoria's history is located at 29-15 Ditmars Blvd. The bakery was opened by Italian immigrant, Paolo Notaro over 80 years ago. It bears it's original exterior and interior woodwork from 1937 and is currently run by a third generation of family members.

Rudy's Hobby Shop, located at 35-16 30th Avenue, is an ice cream parlor turned hobby shop from over 60 years ago. Current owner, Marvin, inherited the parlor from his father-in-law and transformed it into a hobby shop. Rudy's is a rare gem of a store that brings you back to childhood memories of building airplane models and collecting train kits.

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