Chinatown is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Boston, but it’s constantly changing. Since the 1990’s, luxury apartment buildings and big institutions have found their way into the ethnic enclave. For this reason, the people of Chinatown are fighting to preserve their neighborhood’s cultural identity and territory. Throughout Chinatown there are buildings under construction and large lots in the middle of development. I have always been fascinated by the geometry and shapes of infrastructure in progress and have been documenting such sites in Chinatown for the last four years.
One day, as I was going through my old photos, I noticed a man under a tarp and between the wires, working hard but almost hidden. He was building one of the many massive new buildings in Chinatown. I don’t think I even realized he was there when I took the photo. Seeing him made me stop and think about the people behind the larger-than-life buildings that pop up so fast in our cities. Who is constructing the “new” Chinatown? Do they feel attached to the structures they create? Do they inscribe their names on hidden bricks and walls? Do they know about the community’s struggle to preserve their territory?
A view from below
Aditi Mehta is a doctoral student in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning.