12/07/2008

fear, want, worship and speech

I first noticed this forgotten Four Freedoms momument late last summer while exploring a number of the City's most toxic spots along Northland Avenue.
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Sort of an interesting moment, the broken monument, located against the abandoned Curtiss-Wright factory on Northland Avenue. There was so much promise and innovation happening in this part of the City. A block away is the now failed Houdaille Industries, which has just become the City's newest EPA superfund site.
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When President Roosevelt delivered the Four Freedoms address in 1941, Buffalo's manufacturing and population base had yet to peek. Six years later the largest gathering ever in the City of Buffalo would assemble in Delaware Park, see Catholic Buffalo - 200K people gathered in Delaware Park to celebrate. Today we are still losing people, hemorrhaging actually - 7/day - according the Census numbers. Said otherwise, every week a bus load of people leave and anecdotally it seems like a car load returns. And industry? When I began conceiving this post during Thanksgiving week, I snapped this pic down on South Park Avenue, the last remaining smoke stack industry left on this part of the planet. In a twisted way when I grabbed that shot on Thanksgiving Day, it was cold and dirty and the smell reminded me of some time I spent in Berlin East, back in the 80's. Later and while looping back and forth between sucessful European models incorportating and repurposing older industrial structures, I was struck by the thought of another building down by the river that reminds me in some respects of the Tate Modern in London. Crazy and cool loft possibilities.

Anyway, if you head over to Northland Avenue you'll see the the structural remains of the Curtis-Wright facility, crumbling and fading as memories inevitably do.
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The Wolfsonian-FIU, located in the heart of Miami has an amazing blog in part devoted to the interpretation of the Four Freedoms - Thoughts on Democracy - and many of these posters - great flickr series - remixing Roosevelt's Four Freedoms along some groovy graphic lines are worth checking out. These images are miles away from how Norman Rockwell in 1943 first illustrated Roosevelt's address. The same four freedoms formed the basis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the most translated document in the world, according to the Guiness Book of World Records.

According to City records, this monument is located on private property. Who's responsible for maintenance? Are other momuments like these at the corner of Grider and Northland - like houses that are shipped off to landfills - quietly disappearing into the night?
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2 comments:

al-alo said...

really neat find - wonder what it looked like at its dedication . . .

Jay said...

I enjoyed reading this post, but for me its too sad. I can't help but think of my grandfather and his stories growing up in Buffalo's heyday, working at factories like Curtis-Wright, and living in such a vibrant urban boomtown like Buffalo.

It does however embolden me to help, in some way, Buffalo from dying altogether. In fact the blog does that for the most part. Many of the images you post are crushing to me. Many of the statistics (census data, non-deliverable addresses, etc.)actually hurt to read and process. Buffalo's decline is so great and so fast that it is hard to comprehend, if not easy to look away, but you keep your readers grounded and the images coming in.

I know your just as fascinated with the death spiral Buffalo is in, but I'm not really sure what your motivation is for blogging about Buffalo (started with the woodlawn houses and just kept going?). I'm just happy your doing the documenting, advocacy, and artwork that your doing and wanted you to know it is sad, but more so inspiring.