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Between the Lines: 1935

Between the Lines: 1935

June 1935. "Mining towns and camps in the Scotts Run area. View of Morgantown, West Virginia." 8x10 negative by Walker Evans for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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The complexity of human settlement.

Evans took advantage of the hills in the Pennsylvania steel country, and took many pictures of the cities looking down, as landscape. The most famous in Bethlehem, where he managed to catch the graveyard, houses, and steel mill. Here we have a delightful jumble of forms. The roofs look as random as the telephone wires.

South Walnut Street Bridge

The 1935 photo was taken facing east from the South Walnut Street Bridge over Deckers Creek. Below is the same angle today. Here is an aerial. The brick building with quoins is now lofts at 10 Pietro Street. To the right of that, the big brick house with dormers is the building with the sun reflecting off its roof in the aerial.

Unusual perspective

It would be difficult to plan capturing a view like this, absent a scary harness or (today) a drone. But the answer is there in the hilly terrain and the telltale railing at lower left right.

The U.S. Geological Survey makes no official distinction between a hill and a mountain. But my grandmother, who lived most of her life in southeastern Kentucky, was contemptuous when anyone described the view out her window as mountains. Them was hills.

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