America Through a Lense – 40 years later
In 1971, when the Environmental Protection Agency was in its early days, someone at the agency got the idea to send nearly 100 freelance photographers around America to document the country. These weren’t postcard shots, but pictures of street corners, freight yards, parking lots, alleyways — wherever people were working and living. It was called Documerica, and it went on for seven years.
A young photographer, Michael Philip Manheim, joined the Documerica project in 1973. His assignment was to take a good look at the noise pollution in Boston from Logan International Airport. Forty years later, he went back to East Boston to take photos for the EPA’s next generation of the project, State of the Environment. Manheim joins Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon to talk about the project then, and now. (NPR Environment)
On photographing East Boston in 1973
“The people who lived … in the vicinity … were having a very, very big problem. The airport grew and grew and grew, and needed more and more land, and … the people … were so hurt by the noise pollution because at that point, the airplanes would land and take off right over their street. … I documented cracks in walls in the homes, people with severe hearing problems. It just went on and on and on.”
On going back to East Boston in 2012
“There is one house left out of this huge neighborhood, and what you see there are, well, the trees, some of the street signs and warehouses that are connected with either the airport or other serviced industries … the neighborhood was decimated.” More information on Documerica
Clearly there has been some drastic social affects due to Logan Airports’ expansion. When considering ‘Sustainability’, the environment, society and economy must all be in harmony. Whilst the development of the Airport likely expanded the economic opportunity, it did so at the expense of the environment and the local people.