Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The City Over Time

“I realized early on that buildings tell stories very clearly and each of them tells it differently.”

—Camilo José Vergara, in an interview with Architect magazine

I've been exploring the work of Camilo José Vergara of late—his name keeps coming up—and I'm enjoying his Web site Invincible Cities. Vergara is like a modern day Jacob Riis; he has documented urban life, particularly ghettos, for 30 + years. You can waste hours on the site.

Screen grab: The map on the left shows where he photographed. You can search for photos by year or by street address.

His site is set up so that you can explore a particular neighborhood over time, and it's a bit like the book How Buildings Learn: you get to see the way a particular space adapts over time. Here's a store in Harlem over 30 years: