Urban(a) Transformation

May 06, 2014

Urbana is a small town in Maryland, a few miles South of Frederick. I visited it yesterday in an attempt to photograph an abandoned farm nearby. While driving through Urbana, I noticed a fundamental transformation that apparently has been going on for quite some time.

On one side of the road you see the typical suburbs that became so ubiquitous almost everywhere. Purely residential areas with uniform tract houses, each of them brand new and superficially pretty, clean and neat. Homes with friendly, affluent people (if you manage to meet some of them), with perfectly manicured lawns wherever you look. But also relentlessly boring, uniform and sterile. 

On the other side of the street, you can see the ran-down buildings of Urbana. The abandoned houses, the rezoning and redevelopment announcements, the land and home that is for sale. You will even stumble over a huge dance hall ruin right in the center of the town.

There is a pretty stark tension between both sides of the road. 

You can't help but ask yourself how Urbana might have looked 10 or 20 years ago, before the boom, and how it might look within ten years from now? Does the new Urbana and its people have anything in common with the previous one? Or is it just the name that survived?

These photographs were all shot within a few hundred yards from each other. I tried to capture the tension of that place with my camera. Please take a close look at these images and contemplate what's going on. 

PS. For those who are interested, all the images in this post have been shot with the Sony RX-10, as have the images in Point-and-Shoot #11: Hillwood Museum and Gardens, In the Streets with the Sony RX-10 and A week in Berlin. Nice camera, by the way :-)

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