by Matthew Kelly
Across from Metro North and Fordham University’s Walsh Library is Fordham Plaza, which has been under construction for the better part of the past half-year. What was once a small pizza stand and abandoned lot is now being built into a marketplace for local businesses, as a part of City Hall’s plan to improve the community surrounding Fordham Road.
For the past six months a team of 15 to 30 construction workers have been in the process of building the new market, one of them being Ivo Duarte.
Duarte is one of the workers who have been at Fordham Plaza the past few months, as one of the various sites in the city he was worked at over the past few years. He came to the United States in 1998 from Portugal with his parents and younger brother at 13 years old, with his parents leaving their native country in search of a better life for their two sons.
The family settled into New Jersey where Ivo found the initial transition into American society to be difficult at first, but was soon comfortable with the English language while continuing to play soccer in the United States. He played soccer for a number of years while in Portugal and was awarded an athletic scholarship to attend private high school in New Jersey. After high school he briefly attended college before going into construction in the city.
Ivo joined the union 5 years ago and has worked at numerous sites across the city, including at the Far Rockaways, the United Nations building, World Trade Center Tower 1 and Station Hub, as well as in Central Park where he is still working. He finds his work in construction to be rewarding and today Ivo serves as a general laborer but plans on working for another 20 years or so to eventually become a foreman and site manager.
Outside of his work, Ivo is in the process of becoming an American citizen and has made a life for himself in New Jersey. The future holds promise for Duarte who seeks to continue his work in construction in the coming years. His parent’s sacrifice has given him opportunities which he may not have been afforded in Portugal, as he and his family have had the chance for a new life in the United States.