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El Paso (Before/After)

There’s a street corner in El Paso, Texas, that Stephen Shore photographed in 1975. The picture appeared in his book, “Uncommon Places.”

Even at the time, Shore’s photography was a cataloging of the kinds of things that were doomed to vanish; wallpaper, street corners, truck stop restrooms. His pictures were down the road from Greil Marcus’ “Old Weird America” and just shy of the multiplex and big box store. I visited El Paso a few weeks ago, and the location bears little resemblance to the Shore photo. Here’s what it looks like from above (pic links to a flickrmap):

elpaso3

Here’s Shore’s picture. Note the large brick building on the left of the frame, and the small, historical marker in the foreground:


El Paso Street, El Paso, Texas, July 5, 1975 by Stephen Shore

Above and beyond the merits of Shore’s picture as a photograph, there are few key things that have changed in the last 31 years.

  • The street that the pedestrian is waiting to cross has been filled-in and is now cement, part of an extended memorial area
  • The (rootless, planterless) tree is gone
  • The marker has been turned into a larger memorial/statue area
  • The front facade of the large brick hotel remains, and has been added onto, after demolition of the Capri Theater and Payless Drugs
  • The parking lot on the left is larger and the liquor store is gone

Here’s a crude cellphone video of what it looks like now:

Tag: Second Look, Video