Brownsville, Brooklyn

Housing Projects dominate the skyline as one looks North East from the end of the Rockaway Avenue Subway Station on Livonia Avenue. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2023

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I first photographed in Brownsville in the Spring of 2021 when I was commissioned by GQ Japan magazine for a story on the neighborhood. But I quickly realized there was more going on than could be covered in a few visits.

In the early fall of 2022, I began my project in earnest. I want to show the lives of those who live there, the issues that are faced by the community, those who work to try and correct the problems they can, and how the neighborhood is more than the sum of its problems.

Brownsville hosts the largest proportion of public housing in the city while also facing encroaching gentrification. It has major issues with gun violence, drugs, and gangs. The neighborhood lacks access to fresh food, has high poverty rates, and faces major issues around homelessness. Many of the root causes of these problems can be traced back to the city governments’ ignoring the neighborhood and marginalizing it over decades.

But there are those working to fix the problems faced by the neighborhood. Groups like Agape Food Rescue, Brownsville In Violence Out, and the Bethesda Healing Center face the issues head on in the hopes of making the neighborhood better for all those who live there.

In the end, I want the project to tell the story of what life is like for those who call Brownsville home and that there is more to the lives of people in the neighborhood than just the bad news that is all that ever seems to be reported.

Brownsville, Brooklyn

Joey taking a break from his work at a deli along Pitkin Avenue. He is a former crack addict who quit cold turkey eight years ago after being confronted with the toll it was taking on his family. However, he still has issues with alcohol that he is unable to kick alone. He is looking to get into a recovery program as soon as he can get the paperwork he needs. Brownsville, Brooklyn 2022

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Brownsville Mural at the corner of Mother Gaston Boulevard and Pitkin Avenue. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2023

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Older hispanic men playing dominoes on the sidewalk outside a bodega on Rockaway Avenue. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2022

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Andrew and Scotty outside of the ACI Treatment Center on Rockaway Avenue before heading into the center. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2022

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Birthday girl at a  Halloween costume give-a-way and neighborhood BBQ at Shoppers World on Pitkin Avenue. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2022

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

A mural to those killed by gun violence in Brownsville. Watkins Street and Belmont Avenue. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2023

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

3 Train running along Livonia Avenue. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2023

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Juan feeding the pigeons on Pitkin Avenue. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2022

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

"Brownsville never ran, and never will." Panama, on the corner of Blake Avenue and Rockaway Avenue. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2023

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Dumpster with "Kill" written on the side behind the NYCHA Tilden Houses on Rockaway Avenue, Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2022

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Young Boy at a Halloween Party hosted by Agape Food Rescue on Halloween on Belmont Avenue. Agape Food Rescue works to help people in food insecure areas by providing residents with programs that provide food, promote the value of nutrition, increase self-sufficiency, and positive direction. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2022

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Brownsville, Brooklyn, Crips, gang

Emmanuel and Buddha flashing gang signs for the Crips street gang on Mother Gaston Boulevard outside of the Van Dyke Houses. Brownsville, Brooklyn.  2023

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Mervin Victory, his wife Tomekia Victory, and son Joshua Victory on their way home from a church service. Rockaway Avenue. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2023

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

The subway stop at Junius Street on Livonia Avenue with some of Brownsville's public housing projects in he background. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2023

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Shawn, a homeless man, on Rockaway Avenue near Pitkin Avenue. He lives in a shelter not far from where he was photographed. He is wary of straying too far East of Rockaway Boulevard for fear of the gang violence that tends to happen on those blocks. along Mother Gaston Boulevard. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2023

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Brownsville, Brooklyn, Mosque, Muslim

Ayoub  watching as his grandfather Salah says some prayers privately before Asr prayers on a Saturday afternoon at Masjid Al-Huda. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2022

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Kids starting an Easter Egg Hunt at Hilltop Playground, organized by Love City Church. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2023

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Arthur, a heroin user, sitting on a bench outside of a basketball court on the corner of Sutter Avenue and Mother Gaston Boulevard . Judging by the wound on the back of his left knee, where he injects, along with the visible side effect of his nodding off during our conversation, his heroin is mixed with fentanyl and xylazine, otherwise known as "tranq." Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2023

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Bryant sitting in the drivers seat of his car with his friend. Rockaway Avenue near the intersection with Livonia Avenue. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2023

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Steve, who told me his arm was hurt during an attempted mugging when the mugger splashed acid on him, shows off his wounds. Pitkin Avenue, Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2023

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Gas Station Mural. Mother Gaston Boulevard and Sutter Avenue. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2023

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

A  3 subway train rides above East 98th Street past the C Town Supermarket, one of the few in and around Brownsville. The neighborhood is considered a food desert, with a lack or large supermarkets, leaving many in the neighborhood to shop at more expensive bodegas or small groceries with a lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2023

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Women help to prepare meals for the community at the Bethesda Healing Center on East 98th Street. The Church and Community Center holds a soup kitchen and clothing give away on Saturdays from 10:00AM to 2:00PM. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2022

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

IMF (L) and iBorn (R) on Rockaway Ave near the Rockaway Ave Subway Station. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2023

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Rasako Charles outside of a corner store on the corner of Mother Gaston Boulevard and Belmont Avenue. He told me the cops stand around and do nothing. 'We fight each other, fight friends, and fight the cops.' Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2023

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Construction Site for a new high end apartment building going up on Mother Gaston Boulevard. During the last couple of years, there have been many new building going up in Brownsville, worrying the locals who fear that the neighborhood is going to be gentrified, and the makeup of the neighborhood changed. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2023

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Basketball Players in a park on Blake Avenue and Bristol Street. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2023

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Antoine sitting in the doorway of his shop on Pitkin Avenue. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2023

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Public Housing Projects as seen from the Rockaway Avenue subway station. The 3 buildings in the front are the Tilden Houses. The 3 building farther back are the Van Dyke Houses. Brownsville has the highest concentration of Public Housing of any area of New York City.  Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2023

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Blood (L) and Donald (R) in front of Blood's van on Rockaway Avenue near the Rockaway Avenue 3 Train Subway station. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2023

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Jordon watching a basketball game in "The Hole" behind the Van Dyke Community Center, between the Van Dyke and Brownsville Houses. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2023

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Women Standing in Praise. "Back To Church Sunday" at Bethesda Healing Center. The day was started in 2009 in response to smaller congregations at churches. Church members are encouraged to invite others to come to church with them. The service is held outside so neighborhood can hear them. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2023

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Steve Johnson serving up shaved ice in the playground on Bristol Avenue between Blake Avenue and DumontAvenue. He has been serving the icy treats for 3 years. He wants people to not be afraid of the neighborhood, and come and enjoy themselves in the open spaces without fear. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2023

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

New apartment buildings going on on Mother Gaston Boulevard and Belmont Avenue. The rise in new construction and the speed at which the new buildings are being put up in Brownsville has many in the neighborhood worrying about gentrification. These two building went from demolition of old buildings to this stage in roughly 9 months. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2023

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Christmas Toy Giveaway hosted by Risen Christ Lutheran Church. Brownsville, Brooklyn. The Church is currently fighting to regain access to it space and is currently in court over lease issues. But Church members continue to host events outside the building and do out reach in the Brownsville community. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2023

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Children playing in a bouncy house at Betsy Head Field after the Brownsville Easter Parade. Brownsville, Brooklyn , 2024

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Dance Group at Betsy Head Field after the Brownsville Easter Parade. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2024

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Kia, at the memorial for Anthony Barlow, who was shot and killed near the corner of Sutter Avenue and Mother Gaston Boulevard on April 8, 2024. The memorial was on April 9, 2024.  Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2024

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Ballons rising over the Langston Hughes Houses at the memorial for Anthony Barlow, who was killed on April 8, 2024 near the corner of Sutter Avenue and Mother Gaston Boulevard. The memorial was on April 9, 2024. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2024

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Women from the Nation of Islam preparing to give out free meals to residence of the Brownsville Houses for the 91st birthday of Louis Farrakhan. One of the buildings has not had gas since February of 2024 because of a gas leak in one of the apartments. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2024

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Police in Howard Park Playground watching over Brownsville Safety Alliance week (BSA). The purpose of these weeks is to increasing access to healthcare and social services for the people of Brownsville. It is part of a anti-violence and anti-crime strategy.  Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2024

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Rafael (L) and Jesus (R) on Osborne and Belmont. They watch over their friend's fish market. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2024

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Brownsville, Brooklyn

Martin Luther King, Jr. Mural on the side of the Food Bazaar supermarket at the corner of Dumont Avenue and Junius Street. Brownsville, Brooklyn, 2023

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