Wilting Blooms: New York’s Shrinking Flower District

On display at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute through May 2017

New York’s Flower District is an unexpected oasis in Manhattan, a stretch of sidewalk on 28th Street between Broadway and 7th Avenue that is lined with trees and flowers. But the Flower District has been wilting over the years. In its heyday in the 1970s, wholesale flower distributors could be found on 6th Avenue between 26th Street and 29th Street. Over time, those distributors have been priced out of the neighborhood and expensive hotels have taken their place.

The wholesalers that remain open their doors well before dawn for the florists and event planners of the city who need flowers and foliage. Deliveries from around the globe start arriving around midnight, and wholesalers start unpacking them around 4 a.m. Workers plunk cut flowers in buckets of water, other plants are laid out in boxes and pots on the sidewalks. Armloads of blooms are wrapped in brown paper before they’re carried off by customers. The bustling district starts to quiet around noon as wholesalers pack unsold plants back into their coolers and storerooms for the next day.

An early-morning shipment arrives at G. Page Wholesale Flowers.
An early-morning shipment arrives at G. Page Wholesale Flowers.
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Flowers and plants are put on display on the sidewalk in front of Associated Cut Flower.
Boxes of flowers are carried down 28th Street.
Boxes of flowers are carried down 28th Street.
Plants on display on the sidewalk in front of Empire Cut Flower.
Plants on display on the sidewalk in front of Empire Cut Flower.
The sales floor
The sales floor at Dutch Flower Line, with the completed display.
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Employees unpack a shipment of hydrangeas at Dutch Flower Line.
Unpacking hydrangeas
Putting out hydrangeas for the day’s display at Dutch Flower Line.
Roses at Empire Cut Flower.
Roses at Empire Cut Flower.
Manny, breaking down the day's display. Manny has worked at DHL for 16 years.
Manny, who has worked at Dutch Flower Line for 16 years, breaking down the day’s display.
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An employee at Associated Cut Flower packages flowers for customers.

 

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