Summer Photo Walk, June 25: Town Square, Lima, Ohio

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This morning I took pictures of a local public garden and my city’s downtown. I hadn’t photographed Town Square in several years, and I had mixed feelings about revisiting it. Early in my photography habit, I frequented this area, hoping to capture why I feel so attached to a locale that is in decline. I took lots of pictures showing rust and various brands of misfortune, but I did not succeed in showing why I love this place. To reveal one’s attachment to a place is just as hard as taking a portrait of someone you love. To lay bare that core of feeling in a single, two-dimensional moment is very hard to do.

My city is one of many Rust Belt towns finding its way in a post-industrial economy. Earlier this year, a portion of Town Square was demolished to make way for the construction of a nursing school downtown (more specifically, this will be a relocation of some of the health programs at Rhodes State University). Where once was a row of Gilded Age buildings is now a field:

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I hope that this partnership between Rhodes and my city is fruitful.

Today I took basic, well-saturated landscape photos of the downtown area. In the light of a summer morning, the downtown looks free of the lost fortunes that seem to haunt it at times.

Pine Street, Lima, Ohio

Whenever I’ve had an appointment with my back surgeon, I drive down Pine Street to reach his office. There’s a lot of economic disparity in my city, but the decline of Rust Belt factories has shifted most of the city’s prospects downward. Over the past 40 years, there has been a slow exodus of the middle class into the suburbs, and the college-educated children of these families tend to move to bigger cities, where there is a better market for their skills.

Now the city itself has such widespread poverty that the entire city school system qualifies for free breakfast and lunch.

When I came home from my appointment, I mentioned to my husband that I wished I could have taken pictures while I was driving to my appointment today. There were lovely ivory silk lilacs lining swathes of the curb lawns on Pine Street, in stark contrast to the crumbling, hundred-year old homes on the street.

So my husband suggested we take a ride so I could get those pictures. It’s so tricky to get good shots from a car. I figure there’s a learning curve that ends in weighing the purchase of a tilt shift lens.

I tried my best with these photos. I’d like to take more photo trips such as this one. There’s an ocean of such sights in this community, and their fragile decay has its own beauty.

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