I am not a photographer and do not claim to be. However, that being said, I did manage to catch some gorgeous photographs of some of New Orleans’ best urban blight, found in none other than the Warehouse District and CBD (Central Business District). Thanks to the modern marvels of Instagram and Hipstamatic anyone with a smart phone can capture “artsy” pics. Obviously this does not make any of us amateurs pro photographers, but it is a very nice alternative to learning (or paying for) photo shop! I was reticent to join the masses with the Instagram cult, but after playing around with the different lenses I must admit it is a great little tool to have if you are an avid cell phone-photographer.
One of the best tools it offers is the sun symbol which alters the shadows and lighting. It can often distort photos and make them look a little odd, but when it comes to photographing urban blight it is fantastic at highlighting the many layers of paint, brick, and sheet rock peeling off historical buildings, as shown above.
One of my favorite parts about living in New Orleans is being surrounded by so much history, down to the side walks I walk on and the buildings I pass. Growing up in Vegas, I never had the opportunity to live within such historical parameters. To me, urban blight is beautiful and complex. It shows the age and grace of a landmark similar to the wrinkles of a wise man. Urban decay sparks so many questions and thoughts, that modern sleek buildings simply could not. For example, the Leraboun Memorial School pictured above. The top of the building is ashy and black, as if it suffered from a fire at some point in time, while the bottom floor is discolored, similar to that of other buildings that incurred significant flood damage during Katrina.
Even the buildings that do not show clear signs of wear and tear have hidden clues about their admirable age. The top floor of the red brick brown-stone above shows no sign of aging, but the first floor appears to have had bricks replaced more than once in different sections, adding mystery and curiosity to this lovely CBD building.
Each building tells its’ own unique story with each crack and scar on its’ facade.
Often, when I describe urban blight in New Orleans people picture boarded up houses abandoned by Katrina, but that side of urban decay only tells half the story. In those instances, many of the historical homes will never be able to be repaired, and ultimately we will lose those historical gems. It is the extremely sad, devastating side of blight. Conversely, the CBD and Warehouse District portrays how we can emphasize the history of the building while tailoring its’ function to meet our modern day needs. Some of the most expensive apartment buildings in the city reside in this area in converted factories and warehouses.
It truly is incredible to live in a city where history is celebrated through the preservation of music, food, culture, and architecture. Though this post may not revolve around fashion, it touches on the larger idea of vintage in the modern world, and our tug-of-war with our own nostalgic inclinations and our need for progress and innovation. I think the CBD has struck an incredible balance between the two, and I am excited to see how the community grows and develops in the next 50 years.
I try to find my own balance between the old and new when creating my vintage collection and altering pieces to fit the needs of a contemporary woman. New Orleans provides me with a great deal of inspiration and motivation to preserve historical pieces of fashion, and to continue celebrating and honoring our history through my work with vintage and my life in the deep South.
Yall Come Back Now, Ya Hear