Photographer Marisa Scheinfeld grew up in New York’s Catskills region, not far from its legendary resorts of the Borscht Belt, a name derived from the area’s popularity with Jews from the New York region who for years were not welcome at many other vacation spots.
For much of the 20th century the Borscht Belt was a thriving vacation destination, home to hundreds of hotels and motels, from famed high-end resorts such as Grossinger’s and the Concord to modest bungalow colonies. In its heyday, the area was known especially for its nightlife, with top comedians and other performers appearing regularly there.
By the time Scheinfeld was growing up there in the 1980s and ‘90s, however, economic and other factors had sent the region into rapid decline, leading many of the hotels and clubs to close. For the past five years, Scheinfeld has documented that decline through a series of evocative, sometimes ghostly large-scale images of dozens of empty hotels.
An exhibit of that work, Echoes from the Borscht Belt: Contemporary Photographs by Marisa Scheinfeld, is at the Yiddish Book Center’s Brechner Gallery.