Bucket Week - Day Four

Downtown in winter.

This week in honor of the city of my residence and my daughter's home town, I will be featuring Pawtucket, Rhode Island, aka the 'Bucket'.

At Summer St. and North Union, downtown Pawtucket, 1994


Today's pair represents something that I rarely do, which is to say something that I do all the time. That is take multiple, slightly different views at one location. I do that often, what I usually don't do is promote more than one view as the work goes forward. Normally I will make a choice, or feel the choice has been made for me, one is usually clearly the "best", or the best I could do. With these I've continued to like both variants. Although I don't remember I believe they are shown here in the order I made them. I framed up the first and then moved forward for the second. I think the shadows agree with that. There is one thing here that shows something that I do rarely do: photograph snow. My guess is this is late winter. Made with a 4x5 camera on Tri-X film.

At Summer St. and North Union, downtown Pawtucket, 1994

Bucket Week - Day Three

In Oak Grove.

This week in honor of the city of my residence and my daughter's home town, I will be featuring Pawtucket, Rhode Island, aka the 'Bucket'.

Oak Grove Cemetery, 1994


Gates of the Oak Grove Cemetery, 1994

Some people are put off by pictures of cemeteries. Some people are put off by cemeteries in general. Not me. I find they are great places to explore, full of interesting names and fragments of interesting stories. They are usually relaxing places to photograph in as well. No traffic, often no people at all (above ground anyway) so you can mess about with your gear and not feel stressed. There are exceptions. Swan Point in Providence has a strict policy regarding photography and they will chase you out. Hasn't stopped me though, you just need to be quick(ish). In cemeteries within urban environments I find I'm drawn to the ways that the city of the living relates visually to the city of the dead, how the streets line up or how a row of headstones is echoed by a row of houses. This is very likely something else that Walker Evans has taught us to see. These two photographs are almost back to back from each other. I love the detail of the little lamb (a child's grave) in the lower right of the second image. These were made with a 4x5 camera on Tri-X film.

Bucket Week - Day Two

US Route 1.

This week in honor of the city of my residence and my daughter's home town, I will be featuring Pawtucket, Rhode Island, aka the 'Bucket'.

Broadway, Pawtucket, looking south, 1995


This picture was made in 1995. I had an idea to photograph Route 1 in Rhode Island from north to south. This is almost as far as I got. It did lead to other projects: the intersection set and a walk down RI route 2. This is a 4x5 camera image on HP-5 film.

Bucket Week - Day One

On the W.E. trail.

This week in honor of the city of my residence and my daughter's home town, I will be featuring Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Pawtucket will be kicking off it's campaign for the 2015 Pawtucket Arts Festival on Thursday. A worthy effort.

Wilkinson Park, Pawtucket, 1993


I made this image in 1993, not too long after I arrived in Rhode Island from upstate NY. I was working then exclusively with a 4x5 camera and I had just begun the work that became the Rhode Island Photographs project. This image is an homage of sorts to Walker Evans, and it is fair to say that almost everything I was doing then was an homage to Evans. Evans did a great series on war monuments during his time with the FSA. He was responding to photographs made of monuments during the Civil War, photographs he attributed to Mathew Brady, although we now know them to be made by others in Brady's employ. The Evans photographs inspired Lee Friedlander to make a series on monuments. I was thinking both of Friedlander and Evans when I made this.

Providence Fruit and Produce Warehouse

This post first appeared on the Endangered Places, Emerging Stories blog of the Providence Preservation Society. The post can be found here, along with other interesting pieces on buildings lost, saved and on the bubble in Providence.


Harris Avenue was one of the very first places I would explore in Providence shortly after I arrived in 1992.  I can clearly recall the first trip out with the 4x5 camera to that part of town. A spring afternoon, Sunday, the sun clear and warm. Red brick, dusty streets and not a soul around. The area felt ignored and forgotten, as if time had slowed to a crawl. Activity ceased or barely persisting in the evidence of one or two boxcar loads on a siding and a scattering of trucks at a few loading docks. Perfect for me and my slow camera. Plenty of time and none. For if there had been little change over the previous 25 years on Harris Ave. the next 25 would be otherwise. 


There were several structures of interest that together made up the fabric of the district, held together by railroad tracks and the river channel. An ivy covered signal tower from the New Haven railroad era, a single story track side warehouse with a curving wooden dock, the hulking Providence Cold Storage warehouse, and the iconic Silver Top diner.

Front elevation, 1998.

Rear elevation, 1998.

Anchoring the street was the concrete art deco of the Providence Fruit and Produce Warehouse. Long (almost 900 feet) and low it was built in 1929 when rail was king to hold produce unloaded from boxcars for distribution through the city. In 1992 there was some activity but it was hardly a bustling place. One by one these places were pulled from the fabric, torn down or in the case of the Silver Top, moved. The space itself was intruded upon by new highway off ramps.

When the warehouse was finally pulled down in 2008 I wrote this: ...[the warehouse] has great value because it connects us to our past, it is real in a way that buildings like the Providence Place Mall will never be. This is our heritage, built for an honest hard working purpose, not a sham echo of something it is not. This is not a decorated box, which is almost surely what we will get in the place of the warehouse." The rest of this rather angry blog post can be found here.

February 2008

So far all we get in place of what might have been is an empty lot. Perhaps it could have become the year round farmers market that Providence so desperately needs. Perhaps not. Although tons of produce still moves by rail it is not the fruit and veg that the new farm to table trade is built on. Perhaps it could have been arts space. We'll never know. Looking at these pictures reminds me that the only time we have is now, and if we wish to maintain a connection to the past we have to work at it, or all that will remain is a photograph. That said, you can view more photographs here.