Thursday, March 19, 2015

Shabby Cambridge Back Lot

Cambridge and its neighboring city Somerville, were sprawling dilapidated urbanized areas where the rich and the poor lived on the same blocks. In the Harvard-dominated area where I lived, many of the decrepit houses were occupied by students, graduate students, faculty, and other academic types. This drawing of a back lot on the Cambridge-Somerville border shows a typical array of architecture. You see back porches on a "triple-decker," a form of residence highly characteristic of the Boston area stacking 3 floors of apartments. There's a shipping container in there, a fenced-in area behind a business, and the Ronald J. Pointer VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) meeting hall. Instead of finding this type of area dreary and grubby, I loved to draw its geometries and social significators. Also notice that there are still heaps of snow by the side of the road, unmelted on the first day of April. That year, there had been a blizzard on March 29. No doubt the huge snows of 2015 will also remain on the roads into April as well. 

All of this is gone now, replaced by a rather decent, nicely built, environmentally sensitive brick office building. "Development" is bringing this area into a modern age of planned and bland architecture, which I probably wouldn't sketch if I were still there. This drawing and others in its sketchbook were done at the beginning of outdoor sketch season in 1984, during which I documented my Cambridge neighborhood extensively.

Technical pen black ink on sketchbook page, 10" x 7", April 1, 1984. Klick for bigger view.

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