"The struggle is part of the story."
That quote sums up my immediate thoughts every time I passed the area known as the Iron Triangle in the Willets Point section of Corona, Queens, specifically the immigrant struggle.
On first sight, The Iron Triangle was just an oversized junkyard that sat on unsteady and permanently flooded terrain. If you look a little closer though, it was evident the soul of this place lied in all of the undocumented immigrants that worked in this area.
The folks (primarily men) you encountered, were right on the lip of the Iron Triangle, right off the numerous curbs off 126th Street. These men were colorful, they were animated, and they were in your face. If you drove down this area looking to replace your rearview mirror, you knew the jockeying of position to get as close to your car as possible was a deliberate move.
Each man had a different approach to lure you into the garage that they would be eventually receiving a cut from for their effective referral. From sun up to sun down, this place was bustling and it was loud, and it was from sounds indicative of folks struggling to survive.
My favorite photographic work from this area comes from Salvador Espinoza. You know Salvador, if you are familiar with Queenscapes, because he is the man behind all the curatorial work for the many exhibits we have featured since 2015.
Salvador presented his photojournal, "Willets Point" a couple of years back, and the first time I saw it, it was the first time I was exposed to his photography. Salvador used various different formats to shoot a black and white body of work that is stark and descriptive and shows his subjects with a warmth and dignity that is not usually reserved for folks that are being wantonly displaced.
"The Iron Triangle seems to possess its own unique rhythm at a time when most neighborhoods in New York all seem to be in predictable in its uniformity," Salvador writes.
To view more of "Willets Point" and see a wonderful glimpse of an area almost entirely a memory click on the link below:
Words by Adolfo Steve Vazquez photo by Salvador Espinoza