Saturday, March 14, 2009

Layered Places

This week, I am writing an essay about "place" — the assignment is to take the reader on a tour of some little corner of America c. 1770. I'll be covering the neighborhood near the Old Town House in Boston, from the Brattle Street Church (marked "F" in the image below) down through Dock Square, into Cornhill as far as the corner of School Street. This 1769 map shows the Old Brick Church (A), the Town House (a), and the Prison (behind the Old Brick Church).
As I work on this project, I am constantly translating back and forth between what is and what used to be. King Street is now State Street, Cornhill is Washington, and this whole area is "near the Aquarium" on Long Wharf.

The two overlapping landscapes are competing in my mind and have become a jumble of landmarks that seem to exist simultaneously. The layering reminds me of some photos I saw a few weeks back of the Siege of Leningrad layered with modern images of St. Petersburg. The artist Sergei Larenkov, has has combined images of the same location 65 years apart to create amazing, disturbing landscapes:

More here.

If only I had photographs of the corner of King Street and Cornhill, circa 1770. Alas.


Unknown said...

Those are amazing photos. And much better done than the ones in this new group on flickr

Lori Stokes said...

I can't tell you how moving this is to me; this is how history grips me. Its ghosts are on every street. But this is particularly striking.