Storefront Archives: Looking Back with Justo Martí


In 1926, Justo Martí accompanied a woman and her children from Manhattan to Brooklyn as a favor for a friend. I don’t know if they took the subway or drove a car, but most likely they moved through the city by train. The Cuban photographer had arrived in New York City by steamship just one year prior and was still becoming familiar with the immense metropolis and its bustling boroughs. After dropping the family off at their home near the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Martí was moved by what he witnessed as he wandered about. “I was so happy to pass through Brooklyn,” he said, “to see the bodegas along Atlantic Avenue, bananas hanging on the windows. And it was summer, so you would see more of them than if it were winter. I wanted to return.” Martí visited the borough the following day. He boarded an IRT train car jostling its way down Manhattan, across the East River, and into Brooklyn where he transferred to a streetcar at Borough Hall. As the car traversed Brooklyn’s Atlantic Avenue, Martí sat back and enjoyed the sights of “Puerto Ricans, Spaniards,” and their businesses, small shops and grand theaters alike.