Local documentarian Jeremy Wangler pointed his lens to the Keyway area to see if any ghosts of urban renewal might materialize. His photos are both ethereal and haunting, urgent and desolate — a clear portrait of the legacy Urban Renewal left our city. What’s left of the district is about as fragile as 1950s newspaper clippings.
Particularly powerful are the photo-collage images, which combine Wangler’s present-day photos with projections of articles about the Urban Renewal Authority. The Bottoms district now has a handful of industrial businesses, some warehouses, and very few residents. Ironically, one of the existing businesses is a personal storage facility. Wangler has this to say of the juxtaposition:
Stowed away in hundreds of storage lockers today in the central area of what used to be The Bottoms are peoples’ lives. Preserved in that spot. The spot where hundreds before held their entire lives. They may not have had much more possessions than what could fit in one of these lockers. They were the forgotten residents of The Bottoms.
Visit Wangler’s photography website to see more of the photos and read his writeup of the phenomenon.
Urban Renewal offered great promise of revitalizing the city in the 1950s and 1960s, but decades later, those promises have failed to bear fruit. The district is nearly dead, drained of vitality by bulldozers in the 1950s, and drowned out by highway noise every day since. The photos tell more of the story. See for yourself.