Photographing Metropolitan Topography

Forget the damned motor car, build the cities for lovers and friends.”
~ Lewis Mumford

Similar to a piece I wrote recently highlighting the ongoing photographic documentation of bicycle culture, it seemed appropriate to also compile a collection of images detailing the various textures and surfaces of urban landscapes. So often as we traverse our cities we’re distracted by our own cellphones, by noise pollution, by dangerous motorized traffic. So seldom can we simply sit an observe goings on around us – taking in all the contours and angles fabricated by buildings grand and slight, layered over one another.

A recent writing focus of several PDX urban scholars has been the gentrifying force of high-rise development, and the socially degrading ‘vertical gated communities‘ it creates. The images presented below reveal some of this, but focus more on the human scaled city with its complex nooks and hidden recesses. Often, opposing structures exist side by side, representing diametric philosophies of proportion and function. These images are presented without commentary and are open to interpretation. What stands out here for me is the photography itself, the forms and terrain – layers of brick and concrete fabric we’re familiar with, yet so seldom have time in our day to pause and evaluate.

All images are hosted from Tumblr, and can be linked to their source. Please enjoy and share this collection of fire escapes, rooftops, storefronts, subways, gardens, graffiti, decay, and redevelopment as an aggregate of where our cities came from and where they are going, They affirm much about the kind of people we are, and who we strive to be.

Hopefully this set inspires a bit urban of exploring and documentation on its own. It’s a great big city out there.

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