Photographer James Wasserman’s portrait of our neighborhood returns to Old City Coffee after 19 years.

Join us for the opening reception on First Friday, December 6th from 5–8pm. Meet the artist and enjoy light refreshments.

Old City Project Redux is a continuation of a documentary portrait project that depicts people that have lived, worked or in a few cases just experienced some element of Old City, the historic Philadelphia neighborhood. The first phase of this project began in 1988 and continued until 2000 when it was presented for the first time at Old City Coffee. Wasserman returned to Philadelphia in 2016 after ten years in China and was compelled to restart the project. Old City Project Redux is made from both the past and present work and returns to Old City Coffee after 19 years this fall.

Location: Old City Coffee, 221 Church St, Philadelphia, PA 19106
Show Closes: February 10th, 2020

Artist Statement:
We are all looking for our stories. Like a Ukrainian nesting doll each story is enclosed in another and mine is enclosed in Old City. As a young photographer in 1988 who hadn’t yet fully developed his portfolio I looked for subjects in my backyard. This quiet neighborhood was a mix; older mercantile and industrial companies that were slowly closing up and dynamic designers, artists and others who were attracted to living in the old brick warehouses and row homes.

My story starts here. . . 

I’ve always felt at home in Old City. As a kid I was occasionally dropped off at my cousin Myron’s, a graphic designer who arrived in the neighborhood in the 70s. There on the wood floor I had a selection of markers and materials for art making that at the time seemed limitless. My brother lived here, my grandmother worked here, my Dad’s first big job was here. But, it wasn’t until a long lost cousin who we’d never met, asked to reunite with us and share their research on our family’s past, that I felt an even deeper connection to the neighborhood. After arriving from the Ukraine at Ellis Island, Izzy Wasserman and his brother went directly to New Street between 2nd and Front. I wore my hat a little different that day. 

Photography has offered me a way to connect to this rich community and feel further connected to our story. 

About the Artist:
James Wasserman is a Philadelphia based photographer and filmmaker. As a professional photographer James has worked for a diverse cross section of editorial, news and institutional clients that have included Time, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Vogue, Marie Claire, Forbes, The Economist, Apple, Siemens, Audi, The American Friends Service Committee, The United Nations, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and The University of Pennsylvania. His primary photographic work has been to create compelling documentary portraits along side photojournalistic photo essays. His career began in 1987 in Philadelphia where he worked until 2006. From 2006-2016 he extended his work to Asia with a base in Beijing, China. In early 2016 James returned to Old City, Philadelphia to continue his photography work and now additionally, documentary style video work. His return to Philadelphia has given him a great opportunity to continue the Old City Project in to another era. 

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Eddy 1989: Owner of Eddy Shoe, on Third Street.


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Lena and Peggy 2000: (L-R) Owners of Colonial Deli on Second Street.
They grew up in Old City. At the time of the photo Peggy was still living there.