In Wuhan, China, day laborers who carry goods are known as “shoulder poles” (biandan). The 1980s and 90s were a heyday for these workers, whose population grew until they numbered in the tens of thousands.

Many of the workers came from rural towns, finding housing in slum-like “Village in the City” (cheng zhong cun) neighborhoods. Once a mainstay in many Chinese cities, these workers are now disappearing due to changes in the economy.