16 February 2017

A Journey Down Market Street

Newark, New Jersey:
a journey down Market Street

Where does one start? At the beginning, of course...unless you are confronted with the past and the present simultaneously.

Google Street View presents you with its most recently photographed material first most of the time. As you follow Street View, however, it does not always stay in the present. It can flip from present to any of its previous images without warning as you click the arrows leading you forward.

On the Google Earth map below, the beginning of this Newark series is marked by the red circle and the second point of interest is marked by the large blue arrow. Google Street View cameras went down Market Street for the first time in August of 2007, returning three times in 2012 and again in both 2015 and 2016.

Newark residents don't seem to be sure what to do with their stock of 19th and early 20th century buildings. Restoration efforts along Market Street are spotty and large areas of newer structures predominate, alternating with those usual vestiges of incomplete urban renewal programs, vacant lots and parking plazas.

At the start of our journey, we view renovation on the cheap, version #1, cover it up. Below, the vinyl siding has been partially removed (probably storm damage), revealing the former architecture.

Partially peeled off by weather, maybe, this exterior finish probably does little to keep water out.
Water leakage problems seem particularly acute around the chimney.
This renovation is poorly designed to preserve the underlying structure & looks tacky.
(Google Street View, August 2015)
As in other cities, "Urban renewal" programs have led to the demolition of many older structures. Expressways and street widening have carved up many of the older neighborhoods, and stretches of vacant land, strange islands of low density population in the midst of a densely populated area, seem to be more the happenstance of poverty, riots and political chicanery than the results of any long-term planning.

When I first came upon the next notable structure, its image kept coming and going according to the year Google Street View cameras passed by. The image that first caught my attention is below:

(Google Street View, Jan 2012)

Above is the Google Street View of a substantial hospital building in July 2012. I was struck by the modern, substantial structure and thought how proud the community must have been to have such a facility.

However, as I clicked to continue down Market Street, the building suddenly vanished, replaced by new construction. Now you see it, now you don't. Very odd for what must have been a medical center of distinction at one time, I thought.

In the New York City/ New Jersey metropolitan area, however, this is not a unique story. Cash attracts thieves, and in this region, there's lots of cash clustered in the top income brackets and not much at all for the rest of us. So temptation abounds.

Using a succession of Google Street views from different years, the visual tale is told:

Street View, June 2012, showing main entrance to older portion of Hospital.
Swinging around the block, this June 2012 view of the Hospital is from S 11th St. near the corner of 9th Ave. (Google Street View)

Occupying two city blocks bounded by Gould Ave. (unlabeled), S 11th St., 9th Ave. and West Market St., this older Google Earth view shows the Hospital complex, complete with its own parking garage (lower right) before major demolition of the site began.

So what happened to bring about this radical change? In 1967, residents rioted. Homes in the neighborhood were burned and sniper fire was directed at the facility. After that trauma, the head of the hospital made off with its assets, stealing not only profits, but doing incalculable harm to the community, eliminating almost a thousand jobs and depriving residents of convenient access to local health care.

"The Forgotten History of New Jersey" blog elaborates on the history of the hospital, noting that nasty local politicians had as much to do with its demise as the felonious President of the institution itself. The blog author states:
The United Hospital story is laced with corruption and political bullying, so its not a suprise Mr. Divencenzo wanted the buildings gone. These buildings are just more examples of Essex County's blatant and systematic disregard for the historic properties they have been entrusted with. Soon, Essex County will stop obbliterating their history. But that will only be because there is none left to save.
Click the link above for the sordid details. Hopefully the technical training facility that replaced the hospital will be a success and bring some prosperity back to the surrounding area.

Just around the corner from the old hospital/new training center stands this a fairly well-preserved example of an old Newark row house illustrating renovation on the cheap version #2 paint it:

(Google Street View, corner Dickerson & Market St., Aug 2016)
Although each homeowner has done unique renovations, none of them has known quite what to do with the small window on the right-hand side of the 2nd floor. The barred windows and doors indicate the owners do not consider their neighborhood entirely safe. This area was the scene of riots with sniper fire in 1967, so they have good reasons for such barricades.
Another Google Street View disconnect disappears a building at the corner of S. 7th Street and Market:

(to be continued....)

29 December 2016

Photographers Street View index

updated 29 December 2016

a Google "9 eyes" camera
by Kowloonese at en.wikipedia
Welcome! The images you see in this collection are derived from Google Street View using Google's "Picasa" photo editing. The site has been developed to feature locations of interest to the author/photographer and you.

Google explains their Street View project, including ways you can become involved on their page, "Understand Street View." This page shows illustrations of the various ways their cameras are mounted on all sorts of contraptions (not just cars). You may be "wowed" by their publishing process here, too. Hats off to Google for starting a revolution in how we see our world and share it with each other!

Google's 9 eyes Street View self-portrait, Sept 2015
What did the photographer miss?

Acknowledgement to Street View and the Street View URL will be provided for each photo, which will allow you to visit the location, too--and create your own interpretations.

An angle, an older Street View tour of the area or a change in tone might suggest a unique view for you to snip. Move that mouse! Venture down that lonely alley or country byway. Look around. Street View isn't just a directional aid. It's an explorer's tool. Have a wonderful trip!

Shadows on Summer Street
page 50, The Earl J. Arnold Advertising Card Collection
Google Street View, Sept 2014

(most likely location of the Double Thread Sewing Company offices, Boston MA)
This blog originated unexpectedly as a by-product of the Earl J. Arnold Advertising Card Collection. The author found himself enjoying Google Street View entirely too much, snipping here and there contemporary photos of locations of largely northeastern American businesses in the 19th century. When the indexing of the Arnold collection is complete (don't hold your breath) the author intends to return here to develop this blog further.

As of 2016 an increasing number of photographers are modifying, organizing and incorporating Google Street View images in their works of art. Although experience in photography is helpful, anybody with patience can clip the 9 eyes' images. Time Magazine's 2012 article "Street View and Beyond: Google's Influence on Photography" gives a good overview of the state of the art at that time.

Meanwhile, to see what I'm up to currently, join the over 645,309 folks who have viewed my posts page!

~ ~ ~

Photographers Street View


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Reviving Memories:

Click arrow above to view images
as slideshow.

We who live in prospering communities have heard of depopulation. Perhaps we have witnessed neighborhoods in decline. Maybe we've also known gentrification, as parts of our prospering cities change ethnic characteristics and families are forced out due to rising rents or land values.

Soon, of course, we will all become familiar with the phenomenon of climate-induced massive inland migration as rising seas inundate our coastal cities. That is depopulation on a grand scale!

What happens to people when communities "rust?" How does it happen that they gradually fade away, perhaps without any great event or fatal, dramatic crisis to mark their departure? In Brooksburg's case it could have been the simple rerouting of Route 56 (now the Ohio River Scenic Byway). Could it be that Brooksburg is recovering? We have no answers. But we offer these visual clues. 

Google Street View's "Window on Brooksburg"
Google cameras shadow a very special window in Brooksburg.
Mrs. Bruce may have looked through these panes.
Our "window on Brooksburg" is brought to us by Google Street View (2009 and 2013) and Mrs. J.M. Bruce, a 19th century resident of the area.

Excerpt from "Summer Time," an ad booklet published by Lydia E. Pinkham Company.
Brooksburg is not too far from Madison, Indiana, the  County Seat for Jefferson County, IN.  The 1900 census recorded a population of 149. At that time, Brooksburg had two churches (Baptist and Methodist), a Post Office, a weekly newspaper (the Brooksburg Sun), 3 general stores, a Knights of Pythias building (used as school classroom facility) and a creamery. - source: Liquisearch

By contrast, in 2017 the population is about 80. Two church buildings appear to be well maintained, one a Baptist congregation and the other unidentified, but probably the Methodist church.  Google Street View found no operating stores of any kind, no Post Office and no creamery. A number of foundation remains can be seen, one of which has been made into a basketball court & playground.

Below is a Google Earth view of Brooksburg with the routes Street View cameras took through the area marked in blue. The how and why of Street View coverage is a mystery to me. (Please comment below or email me if you can explain.)

American FactFinder and Roadside Thoughts provide census and other information for Brooksburg. Based on the Street View tour, I question some of the livability assessments made by AreaVibes below.

The "crime" rating seems to be particularly suspect, as none of the Brooksburg windows have bars on them, which would be expected in a community with an "F" crime rating.

The lack of public accommodations, local grocery and public transportation is reflected in the "F" given for "amenities." I suspect there is no municipal water, natural gas or sewer service. While the D+ for "education" results from the lack of any school in Brooksburg, nearby Madison IN has a good public school system, a community college branch and Hanover College. "Housing" appears to be inexpensive but unavailable. "Employment," of course, does not take into account those who may be operating home businesses (if any).

"Barely Livable?!" Not by a long stretch, AreaVibes! This beautiful community offers a combination of assets that could be very attractive for those working just 7 miles down the Ohio River Scenic Byway in Madison IN.

This is a small community. No government census can accurately grasp its spirit. Perhaps some of the Street View photos below, however, can provide a more adequate introduction.

Unless otherwise credited, all photos are derived from Google Street View, with links to each location provided in the caption.

The Fire Department and the two churches appear to be the most prominent
community functions in Brooksburg. (Google Earth)
Milton Township Volunteer Fire Department
Unidentified, probably Methodist Church
Brooksburg Baptist Church
At certain times of year
road signs
Most intersections have no need for crosswalks, stop signs or traffic lights.
The streets are generally one lane, paved to keep the dust down.
What a feature! All the streets are one way--your way!

The Brooksburg tobacco drying barn indicates agriculture may provide some income here.
Nature's decorations are reflected in this dooryard
A nicely landscaped garden
The volunteer colors of Virginia Creeper brighten this facade.
Some of the porches are very Victorian.

Porches have distinctive features.
Doors are welcoming.

The dog enumerator has something to do.
A family grave site in town is maintained by residents. 
Strong foundation walls mark the site of a long abandoned structure.
Somewhere around here, there may be a trace of this old schoolhouse:

(Hoosier Recollections)

By all appearances, this was once a general store, probably one
of the three recorded in the 1900 census.
For those who wish to contemplate all this,
a chair is thoughtfully provided.
Nearby, a barge heads upriver on the Ohio towards Brooksburg...
... and the spirit of Mrs. J.M. Bruce looks up from her work to bid us
farewell from the second floor of the general store.