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.

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