UNDER THE EL
“The El” is essential infrastructure to the city, it acts much like a major artery: it runs East to West, river to river delivering the lifeblood of the city, its people, to where they want or need to be. It begins above ground as a massive tangle of engineered metal 13 miles long, it then worms its way under the hustle of the city through a blackness that is punctuated only by quick flashes islands of platform light, it emerges again as it reenters the outer neighborhoods of the city. The El snakes it’s way station to station, platform to platform, it is supported by an infinite army of enormous riveted baby blue steel feet, it’s long belly creating a dark metal sky over the street below. Some segments feel long abandoned, all boarded up and dark, strewn relentlessly with nobody’s litter. Others segments thrive on an underground economy of heroin and prostitution in which patrons, pushers and police play an endless game of cat and mouse. Still others that are brightly lit,bursting with activity and bustling with the creative energy of young professionals, aspiring artists and hungry developers creating the city in their own image. Most of the areas, though, are a normal reflection of the neighborhood that each station along the el serves, a tapestry of the different times, textures, and cultures that show in the peeling layers of history along this 13 mile corridor.
At first the project concentrated on the movement underneath the el going from station to station. This will eventually be expanded to include the neighborhoods surrounding each station also. The photographs in this collection are primarily between Berks and York-Dauphin, which is next area to be systematically gentrified as the city fills up and room is needed.