Citi Field stands tall in the background of Willet’s Point, Queens, NYC, just beyond the 7 Train Subway stop on the trip from Manhattan’s Times Square. Deserted stadium parking lots wait for 2019’s Opening Day, reminding the observer that the Mets will play no September baseball this year. Most summer visitors to this neighborhood look forward to Mets baseball, the Subway Series if the Yankees are “visiting,” and perhaps a weekday afternoon game to escape the office and entertain clients.
Walking a few blocks away from the stadium reveals an industrial neighborhood of automobile repair shops and acres of used-part markets. Aisles of parts behind these storefronts form a maze under permanent storage hangars and extend under tarps and seasonal storage. In some cases, the inventory rests on shelves and on the ground, exposed to the weather. The area has been described as “post-apocalyptic” and “surreal”. In other words, a unique place to see, and very much unlike anything typically encountered on photo walks by picture takers in NYC.
The area, also known as the “Iron Triangle” covers approximately six acres adjacent to the Citi Field parking lots. My one and only prior visit to this part of New York City occurred a few years back to attend the MLB All-Star game. I recall observing the neighborhood and wondering where the Mets fans eat, shop, and celebrate during the season.
My photo companion for the afternoon has visited the area numerous times over the last seven years,
documenting images of the owners and craftspeople working here. Over the course of time, his
presence (and camera) became a familiar sight. The unpaved streets collect puddling water from a recent storm, yet the trucks and commercial vehicles passing through the narrow streets manage to kick up dust clouding the air. Repair shop bay doors are open, adding sanding dust and paint vapor to the atmospheric mix. Since there are no sidewalks, repair work and parts displays often extend beyond the storefronts dangerously close to traffic and even pedestrians.
We stop into a few shops to say hello; one owner chats with us for a while in his tiny office. The future of the area is uncertain — redevelopment plans have been created and revised, and from what I gather, some details are still to be decided. Several places have already closed their doors, yet many remain, providing no shortage of parts to browse, and textures, shadows, and scenes to photograph. The Iron Triangle has an uncertain future but is very real for the time being.
Loculars is deeply grateful to John Korossy for authoring this post. John is based out of the NYC suburbs of New Jersey and candid-style street photography forms much of the images he likes to make. This essay and the associated images are an outcome of John’s experience at Willets Point with documentary photographer Greg Brophy. John is on Instagram @john.korossy