September 29th, 2017

Me and my camera in someone else’s town, my united states, my downtown fresno

To see the full gallery ” I believe in Downtown” please click here. All of the photographs in this gallery were taken on a single day.

I will be producing a very limited edition one off run of only 5 signed hardback large square photography books (30 x 30cm) featuring these pictures. If anyone is interested please email babycakesromero@gmail.com.

Downtown Fresno is a surreal place. Stunning art deco architecture, immaculately clean and pristine  and yet eerily empty. As you walk around there is almost nobody around except for a few homeless people and the odd shopper, mostly from the poorer Hispanic community taking advantage of discount stores. It feels like an abandoned city and in some ways it is.

So the story goes, property developers, rather than pay top rate for real estate in the existing city of Fresno, decided to instead buy up cheap land all around it and build strip malls and homes on the outskirts. They provided residents with everything they would need without having to go into town and gradually people stopped going and soon enough it became a relic of yesteryear, a forgotten place. Buildings that once created awe now just create shadows in the hot Californian sun. Ghosts of the past now walk where the living do not. One of the more unreal moments I saw whilst there, which personified the experience,  was watching a preacher preaching to no-one in the middle of a massive empty square. (featured last week. pic here) Could he see former congregations before him or was it just a prayer to the Lord above to return life to this lost city?

Fresno itself gets a bad rap for being a place where there is not much going on and not a lot to do but that is largely a result of the City curtailing to the above mentioned land acquisitions and choosing profit over people, ignoring the needs of a community beyond food and shopping. Culture that once existed has been left to ruin. All that is left are closed stores and loan places and those without homes, who, up and until recently, used the pedestrianised walkways of Downtown as a place to live. And now even that has been taken away from them as they have just converted the main walkway back to a vehicle accessible road.

There is a project in place called “I believe in Downtown” which is an attempt to entice people back to this area but it sadly does not look like it has been very successful. It is the absence of people which is so noticeable and you feel like you are more likely to run into a zombie than a human being as the notion that you are walking through a post-human city lingers in the sparseness of life.

Walking around the majestic buildings and forgotten theatres, now paralysed by inactivity you can’t help but imagine how vibrant it must have been compared with the comatosed emptiness of the present. Yet somehow it feels like a a glimpse into our future rather than a nostalgic vision of the past…




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