Washington DC’s Chinatown is one of my absolute favourite spots to go street shooting. The architecture has not yet befallen the modernisation that much of the nation’s capitol seems to be undergoing. It makes me want to keep shooting there before all the good stuff gets torn down and replaced by something more homogenous. As a photographer, and a historian I am truly beginning to loathe the homogeneity that many cities worldwide seem to have contracted like a voracious virus. Sure these places look cleaner and are more utilitarian, but places like New York, DC, London, and Berlin are fast losing their character. All are becoming clones of one another, and it saddens me deeply. It makes me feel as though time is running out, and that so many architectural treasures will be lost in the name of that oh so heady word, ‘progress’. There should be an equal amount of preservation as change. I’m sure the Manhattan folk thought much the same back when the Empire State Building was being erected, fearing that the character of their beloved city would be destroyed by the scarification of the skyline. I suppose it will always be that way for every generation.
Despite my objections, I do believe it’s important to photograph the changes that are occurring in DC, new as I am to the city. For my husband Bill who grew up in DC it’s quite a devastating transformation in many ways, not least because of the way it’s forcing change in the area’s social demographic. I remember feeling equally unsettled having grown up in London, and having watched the skyline very quickly change with the construction of the Canary Wharf Tower, which has been far superseded in height by the now prominent Shard. Every time I return to my home town it has changed a little more, and yet another queue of buildings has appeared as if by magic.
I’m looking forward to returning in a couple of weeks and going for a wander with my cameras in the Old Smoke, see if I can yet capture the essence of the place where I once grew up, before it disappears completely in a vaporous cloud of homogenous fairy dust!