Susan Meiselas: Tar Beach

Life on the Rooftops of Little Italy 1940-1970



ISBN: 9788862087223 Category:

Susan Meiselas


Tar Beach. On the Rooftops of Little Italy brings together photographs and memories of life in and around the rooftops of Little Italy, New York. These are pictures that were made, kept and gathered by various families who handed them down from 1940 to the early 1970’s. Reflections from the community offer perspectives of multiple generations, as Angel Marinaccio says: “If you had an accomplishment- communion, confirmation, wedding, graduation or birthday, you’d dress up in your best outfit and go to the rooftop to take pictures and celebrate with your family.” We see the images they shared and saved.

The introduction to Tar Beach is written by renown filmmaker Martin Scorsese who grew up on the streets portrayed in this collection. He writes: “The roof was our escape hatch and it was our sanctuary. The endless crowds, the filth and the grime, the constant noise, the chaos, the claustrophobia, the non-stop motion of everything… you would walk up that flight of stairs, open the door, and you were above it all. You could breathe. You could dream. You could be.”

Photographer Susan Meiselas, along with two of her neighbours, Angel Marinaccio and Virginia Dell’Orio, collected and curated these vernacular photographs to convey the feeling of this special place and time in the daily lives of Italian immigrants as they made their way to becoming part of American culture. The book is designed by Yolanda Cuomo.

Additional information

Weight 389 g
Dimensions 15.8 x 22.4 cm
Publisher name Damiani Editore
Publication date 20 January 2021
Number of pages 96
Format Paperback / softback
Dimensions 15.8 x 22.4 cm
Weight 389 g


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Susan Meiselas is a documentary photographer and member of Magnum Photos since 1976. She is the author of 10 monographs and has edited 4 collections of photographs. Her work is included in American and international museums. She has lived in Little Italy since 1974.

Angel Marinaccio has lived in Little Italy all her life. Her grandparents on both sides of her family came from Sciacca, Sicily and settled in New York's Little Italy on Elizabeth Street. She is the author of Be Home On Time When I Put The Water Up For Pasta.

Virginia Dell'Olio grew up on Mulberry Street. She is currently working on a series of stories about growing up in Little Italy. Her ancestors came from Italy and Scotland.