Friday, January 7, 2011

Undercity

Incredible. I love this. This urban historian travels unused parts of the city to reveal elements of the past totally forgotten. My favorite was the very old and grand subway platform, no longer used for some reason, with high arched ceilings and tiled in an odd green and white style.

I love urban archaeology and exploration.

This is another good site filled with photos from excursions, but Steve Duncan's photos and stories are much more valuable because he knows the history. His blog. He's amazing! Making an historian's niche out of something that would otherwise be considered criminal trespassing or sophomoric hijinks. He explains his inability to explain to some why he is interested in seeing these forgotten things, dusty dirty glimpses into a past way of life, into something so foreign that was once so everyday.

Now I am reading about oak-lined cow tunnels winding beneath the streets of Manhattan. New York is one of the more dynamic places for this kind of study because it's impossible to imagine that it wasn't always as urban as it is, and hard to picture the halting of traffic so that cows could be driven through the streets.

I feel like this just isn't possible in Phoenix, where there isn't much beyond the visible layer and where old things get demolished regularly. It's a constantly regenerating place, and while some may find that to be refreshing or inspiring, I think it's dull and depressing, but then I hate formulaic architecture and stucco. There are a few forgotten places, allowed to remain simply because no developer wants the space, like Cemetery Lindo, located in little neighborhood in South Phoenix. It's just dirt, about 90% of the headstones that were there have been stolen. An old stone and mortar fence reaches around only two sides of the land now and a rusty gate slumps half-open. You would not think it was more than another inner-city dirt lot, but it is; it was a pauper's cemetery that functioned from 1891 to 1951 and primarily houses the bodies of tuberculosis patients, poor indigenous persons and Mexicans. That is why the City hasn't quite gotten around to a beautification project. There have been some in the past, but it was all volunteer-based to my knowledge, and when the City cut off the acreage's irrigation water, everything died. Again.

4 comments:

Fashion Serial Killer said...

I'm avoiding playing apples to apples! Have you been to the mexican graveyard in tempe? I also found a neat old graveyard driving around phx once but now I have no idea where it is.

B said...

Was it the Pioneer's Cemetery downtown? I haven't been to the one in Tempe.

Nick said...

The subway station is the City Hall stop. It's Neato.

http://weburbanist.com/2011/01/05/subterranean-history-beautiful-abandoned-nyc-subway-station/

B said...

Holy shit. Great photos!