Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Old vs. New

Downtown Phoenix is one of the most interesting and dynamic areas I have ever come across. Between the bizarre mix of old and new architecture (believe me, its staggering), the interesting mix of people, and abundant cultural influence its no wonder I find something new and interesting every time I go with my camera.

I will be the first to admit that I don't get there all that often. Living in suburbia means that there are plenty of distractions along the way, most with less rush hour traffic and more user friendly roads. After all, the development of the pending light rail system has left driving in the area to be a somewhat arduous task.

This image is from one of the few trips I have ever made it all the way to the heart of downtown Phoenix to go exploring, as it were.

It was a Sunday evening, after dinner at my mother in laws home. I remember this detail because she had asked why I had brought a full load of gear and tripod to our weekly family meal and I had absentmindedly explained that we were "going to shoot downtown". Only after noticing the look of abject horror on her face did I realize my verbal faux pas. Oops. I still get crap for that.

At 6pm on a Sunday, apparently downtown Phoenix morphs itself into an old west ghost town. Surely you must be thinking "But Kate, thats absolutely preposterous, Phoenix has 1.3 million+ residents!". I would have thought so too. With the beautiful cultural centers, multiple sporting complexes and heck, even just the pure square acreage- you would think there would be at least a decent number of people strolling about.

We counted two. The entire evening. No cars were on the roads, they were all closed due to the light rail development and civic center addition construction. So there we sat. My camera, Phoenix (devoid of residents) and me.

This image was shot from the top of the parking garage Kirk had haphazardly flung the "beater" into. If you have never tried it, find a tall parking garage in the city sometime, and sit there for a while...amazing the things you will see from that vantage point.

I have never really bothered figuring out what this building houses. It doesn't really matter... I look at form and very rarely function. What matters is the dichotomy of its surrounds. Behind this building and beside it stood nothing but modern, glass filled corporate towers. Yet here it was- obviously vintage compared to its neighbors- a testament to what Phoenix was in times past.

As they continue to tear down the older buildings in favor of newer structures, a small piece of me hopes that this and a few of the other older buildings are allowed to remain. Sure they are a little older- but so is your mother and you still love her don't you? These older buildings give the downtown area a lot of architectural character it would be otherwise lacking- a brick and mortar history as it were. Besides, lets be honest...steel and glass can only go so far.

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