Friday, March 16, 2007

Looking into alleyways

London, Ontario, March 2007 [Click to zoom in]

I continue to regularly walk through the neighborhoods that make up the central core of the city. As I've illustrated in earlier entries (see here, here and here), time generally hasn't been good to these places, nor has it been particularly kind to the people who live here.

Yet I find myself returning time and again because while the eye may be drawn to the flawless perfection found in more recent developments elsewhere in town, better 'hoods don't seem to invite the same depth of soul searching so evident here. This place wears its fading past, its gritty present and its uncertain future on its proverbial sleeve. There's always something new to see and toss around in my head as I walk back to my relatively safe and better off home base.

As an example, this fire escape looks like no one's been here in years. The same might also be said for so many other micro-elements of this neighborhood. As I veered off the sidewalk of the main drag - Dundas Street - I caught the attention of a couple of pedestrians who stopped and watched me as I pondered the scene before capturing it with my camera. I'm sure they wondered why I'd take the time to shoot something so run down and forgotten.

If they had stuck around until I was done, I would have explained to them that this was exactly my point.

Your turn: Beauty in decay. Please discuss.


Pat said...

This makes me think of all the old films like 'A tree grows in Brooklyn' where under priveleged people have sat out on fire escapes and dreamed of a bettter life. Really very romantic I think. well spotted!

Anna said...

This is a good strikes me as very lonely.

Anonymous said...

Hiya, Carmi.
I think the best part is that ghost in the brick. The fire escape could deteriorate or be ripped down, but the cloud-esque silhouette on the brick doesn't go away so easily.

Here from Michele's.

Anonymous said...

Great shot Carmi! (As always)...

I don't have as much that type decay as we live in a small rural town but I do love to find old barns or houses falling for pictures. They just seem to have a story to tell.

Nestor Family said...

Beauty in decay... hot topic in many venues.

"New is better!" , "New and Improved!" , "New Looks, Hot Trends"

Evidence in all the "makeover" type TV shows and headlines on magazines...

There is something to be said for an appreciation of what once was, don't you think? Knowing history and letting it sink in while looking at sights...recovering memories... do we do that anymore? Is covering it up that much easier? (Perhaps off on a tangent now... nice photo! :-)

kenju said...

You seem to have the knack for finding it, Carmi. There is a lot of beauty in decay, if we would only SEE it. Most of us walk idly by it everyday and never notice. Thanks forhelping us see where to look.

Michele sent me this time.

Carli N. Wendell said...

beauty in decay.
not as nice to look at as a puppy.
although, I do like that image.
more frasier, please.

Carolyn said...

What I see in your photo is EScape into HARDscape. I imagine people meeting there, smoking cigs (or not), passing time, idle gossip, making plans, selling drugs, doing drugs, finding love (cheap & real), seeking friendship, seeking solace, seeking truth, seeking beauty...

Unknown said...

Nice shot, Carmi. You know, we live in a new community and the only "old and rundown" area within a few miles is a cemetary down the street. Not to say that there isn't a "old" section of town, there is, but it is always being improved and renovated. Granted, things always look "nice", but somehow devoid of "character".

I am originally from Salt Lake City, and for as long as I can remember, downtown was an ecclectic mix of old and new. Improved and dilapitated, rich and poor, etc.

But when we got the news that the 2002 Olympics where being held there, the officials set to work on cleaning up and clearing out. To the point that you could eat off the sidewalk on Main Street :O)

Even now, 5 years later, the city is moving to gentrify the last 2 remaining SRO (Single Room Occupancy) hotels in the downtown area. Making everything shiny and new.

But I for one like the occasional run down building, or more to the point, the flip side of perfection.

Again, great shot!

Here form Michele's,


Azgreeneyes said...

Beauty in decay, huh? While I do like new, shiny things, I also like stuff that has seen life, and where life has left it's mark as if to say, "This is life, you can't escape me." (or something like that)

You have a great eye Carmi!

Unknown said...

Memories, like time, often wear away the original beauty leaving a bit of their own although not immediately evident.

Hello, Michele sent me!

OldLady Of The Hills said...

It looks like I skipped you at Michele's Carmi....but we must have posted at the same moment!
You could do a whole book of pictures on this area that you are continually drawn to, my dear....They set such a mood and say, well....everything about that place. Wonderful picture, as always.

Undercover Angel said...

Something like this is so beautiful. It looks so lonely and forgotten, yet thankful to still be standing...

Michele says hi!

Carolyn said...

ooops, was already here today. Back now from Michele's. Still enjoy that photo :)

bluemountainmama said...

being surrounded by huge mountains, fields, and trees, this is a depressing site to me. i am a country girl and think i would feel terribly out-of-place in these types of places.

it takes a special eye, like yours, to find beauty in it. although, i tend to take similar pictures.....they just happen to be country homes......old farmhouses, schools, etc. they call out to me and i like to think about when they were in their prime and what all went on within their walls.
Here is a country version of this post. :)

Anonymous said...

I'll bet that was a wealthy neighborhood once. I grew up in an apartment building outside of New York, that had once housed wealthy folks, but not so when we lived there.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Hey, Carmi! Another great shot; something about your post makes me wonder how you'd view my house, though. Not sure what triggered that thought in me, but there you go.

photowannabe said...

The angles and grittiness are so picturesque. I think its the imperfections that draw me to the shot.

Pat said...

Michele sent me back to have another look and to see what other people thought.

Rainbow dreams said...

Hi just realised how long I must have been away - so many posts to catch up on!

It all tells a story... I wonder how many fire escapes have ever been used.. and if so, was it for a fire or something else - I remember sunbathing on our fire escape in London!

Have a lovely weekend,

Shephard said...

Turn about's fair play. ;)

You should have told them you were a Location Scout from Hollywood.

I love the colors in this shot, equally faded shades that share the same tone, the same years of neglect. You have a good eye for decay. ;)


Anonymous said...

Carmi, I think it looks cold so I'm glad it's you taking the picture and not me. I guess my blood has thinned from being in HK for so long! But true to all your pictures, it is a fab pic that tells a thousand words. Old barns also have beauty in their decay.

Vid Digger said...

Looking at anything old reminds me of the good old days! Places where I use to live are run down, but they will always have a place in my heart!


Who's playing the violin?

Michael K. Althouse said...

I have to wonder... Does it still work. What if there was a fire. Also, the juxtaposition of icicles on a fire escape didn't, um... escape me.


Michele sent me this time.

Anonymous said...

Okay, Carmi, my second favorite thing about this picture is the intersection at the crux in the left-center of the shot. Can't say I'd want to get tangled up at that joint were there a fire and the place was filled with fellow-dwellers.

Here from Michele's. :)

Catherine said...

I don't know what it is about decay, but I find it fascinating too. I especially like the diagonals on the right hand side of that shot.
Thanks for visiting my blog - I'm not sure if it was clear, but the quilts came out of the cupboard, not out of a store! Giving some away means I get to make more!

Nic said...

Your pictures are always eye-catching and quite often thought provoking. With the large icicles hanging on, it strikes me as a cold, neglected place almost. Kind of like the Russian scene in the movie "The Saint". Poor Russian people in a frozen atmosphere with really no hope for a better life with things stuck in "status quo".

How are you doing my friend? Long time no see. Hope you have a beautiful weekend with the family. Here from Michele's today.

scrappintwinmom said...

The picture made the think of a building that had caught fire in the midst of winter, and the water used to extinguish the fire froze. I still think you need a bodyguard on these walks of yours. Here via Michele!

Wylie Kinson said...

Can I get these all in book form?

awareness said...

hi Carmi

This photo looks so similar to the view at the back of my office building, one which I have been looking at with critical eye for a while now..... you've motivated me to take some pics of it.

What is interesting about the "view" in my neck of the woods is that right behind the decayish building with the escape route is a condo. The contrast is stark.

I'll try to capture it and post next week.


Lori Schmidt (LoriProPhoto) said...

Cool shot with great textures. I am so glad that our ice and snow have gone, still cold below freezing in the mornings but we are slowly warming up.

This is a great find Carmi. I love your stories that go with each one! I can just imagine what the people were thinking LOL


Carola said...

Love the ice in this picture!

Looks like a grungey street magazine creation. You know, one of those 'dirty, graffitied, broken run down back alleys filled with bins and sleepers, where models in new clothes and perfect hair and perfect features go to stand and attempt to give the camera some attitude'.

I love it.

You must look like a happy asian tourist when in your happy everyday situation. And i mean no disrespect whatsoever - if I had a camera I too would claim myself to be a happy asian tourist. I love people from all over the world, and the people I have met from Asia are some of the happiest people I know!

Love it to bits Carmi Chameleon!