Mr. Queenscapes: Photographing Queens, one day at a time


By Chase Collum

Adolfo Vazquez hadn’t seen his father in decades when he moved back to Queens from the West Coast. He had aged dramatically in the meantime, and returned unfit for the rough and tumble travel of the everyday New Yorker. So Adolfo, seeing his father near the end of his life, battling diabetes, cancer and hepatitis, unable to see the beauty of the city for himself, began to document their home borough of Queens.

Soon after he started, he came up with the idea to take one picture in every neighborhood in what Melinda Katz is now calling “The World’s Borough” for an Instagram project under the handle @Mr.Queenscapes (no space).

“It was just a thing for me to put my kids pictures up at first. They put him in a great mood, and it just went from there,” he said. “Most of my pictures are landscape shots, but I have to say the thing that has been most special for me is the people and the culture, the vast array of different culture from one neighborhood to the next. You can turn the block and you’re in a totally different neighborhood, and I am seeing how strong these communities really are.”

It didn’t take long for Adolfo to find out just how many unique neighborhoods there really are in Queens.

“There are a lot more than what they list. I have about 120 that I’m looking to hit and I’ve done 70 so far. There are still new neighborhoods that I’m learning about,” he said in an interview in August. “I’m learning so many things that you can’t really find anywhere. In terms of exposure [New York] is the biggest city, but there’s so many things in the outer boroughs that people don’t really know about.”

For Adolfo, the thing he has seen that sticks out to him is not necessarily what he sees on the surface, but what he learns as he researches the history “that predates what the current culture is.”

“It’s really fascinating how groups of people form and how they take a hold of a neighborhood,” he said.

His father sadly passed away not long after the photo project was under way, but that didn’t stop Adolfo from continuing on with his vision. So far, he has documented more than 70 neighborhoods, and he’s nowhere near finished. He hopes that his contributions can help enrich the culture of the borough he has called home since birth, and where he and his wife Jessica are raising two boys, Roman and Saul.

“I started this because of my father, and that I’m able to share this with my boys is really wonderful to me,” he said.

Without further adieu, I give you the photography of Mr. Queenscapes. See if you can guess where these photos were taken.

20PrinceStreet 37train  18AlleyPondPark19Bodega 17Woodside 16Queensbridge 14StAlbansLIRR 13VernonBlvd 12NYStatePavilion 11SaintAlbans 10Sunnyside 9SheaJunkyard 8CourtSquare 7Pomonok 6CoronaStation 5Colombia 4BroadChannel 1Rockaway

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Posted by on Oct 31 2014. Filed under Entertainment, Featured Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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