Winston Vargas was born in Santiago, Dominican Republic, on November 9, 1943. His parents traveled to New York City in 1950, leaving Vargas and his brother with friends and family. They arrived in New York in 1952, when Vargas was around nine or ten years old and his brother was five.
For over 60 years, Vargas has documented Washington Heights. He took photographs of the neighborhood long before it became known commercially and culturally as “Little Dominican Republic.” Before the death of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, which caused waves of Dominican immigration, Vargas took pictures of a Washington Heights that consisted of African Americans, Puerto Ricans, German Jews, and Irish residents. Vargas captured the Dominican diaspora before it began, from yesteryear’s black and white films to today’s colorful digital files.