18 Reasons The American Dream Is Still Alive

Innovation. Creativity. Passion. There’s a place where those forces come together daily to help build robust new businesses humming with the energy of their founders. Take a tour of a hardworking borough’s breakthrough successes.

Brooklyn is still on the rise.


The borough, once in Manhattan’s long shadow, now has its own sports team, its own TV shows–even, you might say, its own brand.

It also has become a hub for small business, as the photographer Randy Duchaine has shown. Duchaine moved to the borough himself in 1986. When people learned he’d given up his 212 area code in Manhattan, they assumed he’d had some reversal of fortune. In fact, he’d simply become captivated with the spirit of the scrappy borough, a spirit he would come to document in photographic portraits over the years. “Created in Brooklyn” is an exhibition currently on display at the Brooklyn Public Library; it chronicles the borough’s movers and shakers.

From chocolatiers to tech-based sound analyzers to artists and designers, Duchaine has seen it all. He still remembers the first time he went behind the scenes at Mast Brothers Chocolate (pictured in the slideshow above). “They had such passion and enthusiasm,” he recalls. He’s inspired by the verve and daring of many of the people he has photographed: Of the founder of ScratchBread, Matthew Tilden, Duchaine notes that “he had no money–just ambition, desire, and a dream. He made it out of nothing.”

“I admire them, I celebrate them,” says Duchaine of his borough’s small business owners. “They don’t give up easily. It’s the American Dream,” he says, adding that many of the business owners he has portrayed are recent immigrants.

“I think the number-one thing you can learn from these people is you have to trust yourself, and that nobody else is better qualified than you. These people all had one thing: the desire to do something–and they pursued it and never looked back.”

[All Photos by Randy Duchaine]


About the author

David Zax is a contributing writer for Fast Company. His writing has appeared in many publications, including Smithsonian, Slate, Wired, and The Wall Street Journal.