Tagged: Boston

Two Years in Massachusetts


From Two Years Overlooking MIT, 2013-2015

From 2013 to 2015 I split my time between Cambridge, Massachusetts and Chicago. Rather than work on a major project in the Boston area, I mainly used my time there to write my dissertation and focus other projects, including organizing and editing my work for Affordable Housing in New York and the Telescope Houses of Buffalo, New York. Even so, I did produce a small photographic series about modernist buildings, wandered around in the greatest snowfall in the city’s history, and made a little work that helped me enjoy some of the differences between New England and Midwestern cities.

The following photographs are a loose assortment from those mini-projects. The above image pulls from the dozens of photographs I made from the apartment window. MIT’s Briggs Field commands the foreground, with the rest of the campus, the Charles River, and Boston beyond.

Walking Home
Walking home through the Allston neighborhood

Peabody Terrace, Frame Buildings
Josep Lluís Sert’s Peabody Terrace in context

Ice Cream Hanging Out on the Charles River
Forth of July along the Charles River

Simmons Hall in the Snow

Cambridge Street After the Blizzard

Where All the Snow Goes
Cambridge in the snow

Shell Oil Company
The landmarked [pdf] Shell Oil Company “Spectacular” sign in Cambridge

St Augustine's African Orthodox Pro-Cathedral Diptych
St Augustine’s African Orthodox Pro-Cathedral in Cambridge. The denomination was founded in Chicago in 1921 and has an intriguing history, including links to Marcus Garvey.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
In the fall, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus rolls into the Boston area and sides in Cambridge tracks.

Covered Car, Boston Skyline
A view of the Boston skyline from across the harbor in Jeffries Point

What Cheer? at Honk Fest
Providence-based What Cheer? in a Honk Fest parking garage

One Light

Residential Building First United Mkt
Three photographs from a small project on Cambridgeport, a low-density Cambridge neighborhood that’s being rapidly densified

Boston's Government Service Center at Dusk
Boston’s Government Service Center at dusk

Sarrinen's MIT Chapel Two Plus Two
Eero Sarrinen’s MIT Chapel and a peculiar Allston residential building

Addition Abomination
Perhaps the brashest (and ugliest) building addition I’ve ever seen

North End Park, Boston Skyline
A view of the Boston’s layered skyline from North End Park

Another Year, Another City

2015 was another year of change. After splitting my time in Chicago and Cambridge over the last couple of years, it’s time to add another city into the mix. Since August, I have been hopping between Chicago and Minneapolis, where I am now an assistant professor of sociology at St. Olaf College. Even with the change in location, I’ve actively worked on several projects, including two which have come to a close. The following includes highlights from that work and a few notes about what I’ll be up to in 2016.

PROJECTS

The Affordable Housing of New York City, New York

Among the most exciting developments of 2015 was the publication of Affordable Housing in New York, edited by Matthew Lasner and Nicholas Bloom. I contributed a photography essay and dozens of additional images to the book. The project extends my work on public housing in Chicago and can be read as a companion to my efforts with Devereux Bowly on the revised and expanded edition of The Poorhouse. Samples from the project can be seen in a New York Times feature and an upcoming exhibition at Hunter East Harlem, details forthcoming.

Melrose Commons - El Jardin de Seline Interior: Thomas Morales and Luis Franco

The Area

Four years into the displacement of more than 400 families by an intermodal freight yard project, few residents remain in “The Area.” Instead, the community better resembles a worksite than a neighborhood. After a productive editing period in 2014, we put editing on hold for the year while I continued to work with residents who have both stayed and settled elsewhere. Even so, the rough-cut material was shown at a couple of events, with more scheduled for 2016. In the spring, I presented a small sample of the material at the Place Hacking Sociology conference at the University of Liverpool, and David Weinberg Photography hosted the first public screening of material from the film as part of its An Invisible Hand exhibition. The Weinberg screening was particularly special, as community activist Deborah Payne was present for the Q&A. I expect we will return to post-production work later in 2016.

Leaving Home

Walking to Play Basketball

The Bloomingdale Trail

In 2009, Paul Smith, Ben Helphand, and I held several conversations that would ultimately result in developing the few images I’d made on the nascent Bloomingdale Trail into a project that I would pursue for the next six years. Now that the underused rail spur has been transformed by its own multi-year construction project, I am concluding the series. I’m sure I will continue to spend time on the Trail, but any future work will be a coda to a project about a semi-wild, semi-public place above Chicago’s near northwest side.

The Bloomingdale Trail

At the Eastern Terminus Looking East from the

Buffalo, New York Telescope Houses

I am nearly three years into working on this small typological project about one of Buffalo’s vernacular architectural modes, the telescope house. Now that I have photographed nearly five dozen of the buildings, I have begun to exhibit the work. This year, I exhibited selections from the project at pinkcomma gallery in Boston, as well as published in Satellite magazine and ArchDaily. An exhibition dedicated to the series will be shown this spring in Dennis Maher’s Fargo House gallery in Buffalo.

Buffalo Telescope Houses

OTHER CITIES

As in previous years, I visited a couple of dozen cities in the United States, much of it in support of my now six-year book project with Michael Carriere about creative solutions to local social problems. Below are photographs from some of those visits, as well as a few from a short trip to Norway and Sweden.

Amsterdam, New York

Residential Block, (Former) Fownes Brothers Glove Factory

Boston, Massachusetts

North End Park, Boston Skyline

Buffalo, New York

Alfy's Mini Mart

Cambridge, Massachusetts

In Cambridge, I spent a lot of time treading around during the area’s greatest recorded snowfall.

Cambridge Street After the Blizzard

Chicago, Illinois

Root Inn Liquors

Cleveland, Ohio

City of Cleveland, Do Not Cut Grass

Detroit, Michigan

In 2014, I posted a photograph of Tyree Guyton’s House of Soul, which had been burned by an arsonist that year. The image on the left is the replacement, as of winter 2015.

New House of Soul Senate Theater, Detroit

Houston, Texas

In Houston, I worked on a small project about development in the city’s Third Ward.

New Construction, Third Ward

Indianapolis, Indiana

Sitting on the Porch, Reading

Göteborg, Sweden

Sauna in Frihamnen (Bathing Culture Göteborg)

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The Corner, Looking Out

Minneapolis, Minnesota

I haven’t yet started a formal project in Minneapolis, but I am exploring the city. Now that the weather has turned, I’m especially looking forward to photographing in the snow and cold.

Scene of a South Minneapolis Shooting Lake Ice Hockey

House, Charles Horn Towers

Oslo, Norway

Oslo Street in the Snow, Uranienborg Church

Racine, Wisconsin

Office

St. Paul, Minnesota

Parade View: Black Lives Matter St. Paul

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm at Dawn

Waugh, Indiana

Movie Projected on the Barn, Indiana

To 2016!

95 Inches of Snow

This time last year, I was engulfed by the Polar Vortex in Chicago, but this year I am in the Boston area for its record snowfall. The region has received nearly 8 feet (2.4 meters) of snow in the last few weeks, and additional precipitation is forecast. Unfortunately, the area’s public transportation infrastructure is woefully underprepared for the deluge, and many municipalities don’t know where to put all of the snow; Boston has even considered dumping it in the harbor. Even so, the accumulation makes for a fresh landscape and is especially peaceful on Cambridge’s side streets at night.

Simmons Hall in the Snow

Cambridge Street After the Blizzard

Where All the Snow Goes

Cambridge Street After the Blizzard

Football in the Snow

Walking, Cambridgeport

Pierce Boathouse, Along the Charles River

Dead End

A Year of Projects and More Travel

2013 was yet another year of big changes: I finished my fieldwork for my dissertation; I started regularly spending time in both Chicago and Cambridge, Massachusetts; and I started a major shift in the balance of my photographic and video work.

In previous years, I pursued a relatively equal combination of project and non-project work. Typically, that’s meant spending as much time developing formal projects as more loosely exploring a given city. This year, I have been so busy with the formal projects that I have had much less time to “just” explore.

I worked on the documentary film (still tentatively called “The Area”) more than any other project, although I even shifted that balance. I was visiting the neighborhood nearly every day for the first half of the year, but I am now visiting in concentrated chunks. I dedicated much of the time I would have spent in the neighborhood to either writing about the project or initiating post-production work with Scrappers Film Group. If you would like to read some of my writing about the project, I have been authoring a column about the work for BagNewsOriginals. If you haven’t seen the documentary short from the project, you can view it on Gapers Block.

Of the other projects, two of my favorites were documenting Bertrand Goldberg‘s Prentice Women’s Hospital and contributing to the Kartemquin Film’s Almost There. While Prentice’s magnificent exterior presented the usual opportunities and difficulties involved with documenting buildings, the interior documentation was particularly challenging. By the time our team was allowed access to the building, Northwestern University had already begun some elements of the demolition, and the many of the floors lacked electricity for anything other than emergency lighting. Still, the experience was unforgettable, and I am happy with the work we produced. Hopefully the next building will be saved.

I’ve included example photographs from those projects below, along with selected images from my visits to other U.S. cities. You can click through for larger versions of the images on flickr (except for the Prentice images) and can click on the titles to see other blog posts or flickr sets.

The Area

Walking in the Snow

In the Shoe Sign Shop

Prentice Women’s Hospital

Prentice Women's Hospital

Prentice Women's Hospital

The following is a short advocacy video we made for the National Trust for Historic Preservation about Prentice.

Almost There in Northwestern Indiana

Ice, After the Fire

Whiting, Indiana

Atlanta, Georgia

Johnny E. Parham, Jr., Participant in the Atlanta Student Movement

Wheatpasted photograph of Johnny E. Parham, Jr., participant in the Atlanta Student Movement from Sheila Pree Bright’s Project 1960.

Birmingham, Alabama

Bragg Cleaners & Record Shop

Boston, Massachusetts [f]

Walking Home

Covered Car, Boston Skyline

Buffalo, New York

Buffalo, New York Telescope Houses

A collection of telescope houses from Buffalo’s East Side.

Chicago, Illinois [f]

Residential Building in the Fog

Iced Truck, After the Warehouse Fire


A surprising find in the aftermath of a massive warehouse fire on Chicago’s South Side.

Cleveland, Ohio [f]

Modified Post-War Suburban Homes

Post-war suburban development in Cleveland-adjacent Euclid, Ohio.

Detroit, Michigan

Sweeping the Sidewalk

House of Soul (Now Burnt)


The House of Soul was one of several Heidelberg Project buildings burned by an arsonist in 2013.

New York City, New York [f]

Scaling Fish on the Sidewalk

Scaling fish on the sidewalk in the Bronx.

San Diego, California [f]

Silver Gate Three Stars Lodge #296