81 BoweryImage via Annie Ling

The fourth floor of 81 Bowery was home to dozens of Chinese immigrants until March 7th, 2014 when authorities ordered the inhabitants to evacuate their home. The space had been composed of tiny cubicles for each of the residents of 81 Bowery who all shared a communal bathroom. Taiwanese-born, New York-based photographer Annie Ling had been taking photographs of the lodging house at 81 Bowery since 2009. Ling’s own Chinatown tenement had burned down in 2008, and for a year she was without a home. In her “81 Bowery” series, Ling captures the community of the lodging house by connecting the people to their space.

81 BoweryImage via Annie Ling

81 BoweryImage via Annie Ling

annie-ling-81-bowery-nyc-untapped4Image via Annie Ling

The living conditions were far from luxurious, but these immigrants had created a community on the fourth floor of 81 Bowery, where they cooked for each other, helped one another out financially, and bonded over their common roots in China. Some had lived in the space for more than 10 years, and were now being kicked out on the grounds of “safety violations.”

81 BoweryImage via Annie Ling

81 Bowery Image via Annie Ling

With nowhere to go, the City of New York provided some former residents of 81 Bowery temporary homes. However, not all residents had the legal paperwork to show, leaving many homeless with nowhere to turn.

81 BoweryImage via Annie Ling

81 BoweryImage via Annie Ling

 Annie Ling’s work work, including 81 Bowery, has been displayed at Museum of Chinese in America. You can also see more of her photography on her website.


  1. John C says:

    Fuck those people smoking in that first picture. Both a safety and health hazard.

  2. I actually think this idea is genius! No, it isn’t ideal, but it is better than being on the streets.

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