Last year I took many photos of an area of Williamsport that has been very important to me. It’s a neighborhood that has been plagued for over 30 years and has all but disappeared due to development for expansion of Susquehanna Health System’s Williamsport Hospital, and the City’s new YMCA. If you were to drive through it today, you would notice a vast expanse with construction projects, a brand new, south-facing hospital building, an under-construction YMCA, and a few old houses interspersed within the chaos of traffic, ambulances, and construction equipment. Last year, it had a different look. The new hospital building was finished, but the new YMCA was yet to be started, and ground wasn’t broken yet for another new hospital building that is being built near the new expansion. It had a much bleaker facade. Still, it looked more sanitized than it looked a few years back.
On February 23rd, 2013, I walked around the neighborhood, and photographed houses that were scheduled for demolition, scarred patches of urban prairie that used to hold family homes, and homes that were occupied but in disrepair. I named the project “Progress?” because I wasn’t too sure if clear cutting an entire neighborhood for these new developments was truly worth the matter.
After revisiting and photographing the site last Sunday, 2/23/14, I had a different outlook. The neighborhood is still suffering. It’s not great. But, I do see areas of growth and potential. The new YMCA construction is pretty far along and the area has cleaned up a bit. But for the families living south of High Street, is life any better? You see the new hospital, you see the new YMCA. You see the vast openness that used to be a neighborhood. You see it all at once. I’ll let you decide.
I tried shooting from similar angles for a before and after type shoot, but many of the streets I photographed last year are gone due to the new YMCA construction.
This song served as an inspiration for the 2013 shoot, and I listened to it while taking these photos.
Next year on February 23, 2015, I will be back again.