hearing things

This is the Ellis Island in 1976; at top is some forgotten room, bottom, the main waiting hall. I was eleven, on a special viewing of the place with my parents and I had my little Instamatic camera along. We were taking part in a dedication ceremony marking the beginning of the restoration effort. These are the only 2 images I have from that day. I remember seeing a lot of random discarded furniture in empty rooms, and vines covering windows and actually creeping into the interior along one passageway. Every step reverberated. I thought I could feel the past in the rooms.

I went looking for these because I recently purchased "The Destruction of Lower Manhattan" by Danny Lyon. Roaming the blocks of the lower west side that were being razed (1966-67) to make way for the World Trade Center, Lyon darted in and out of buildings, documenting the dereliction and subsequent demolition. The images-- the whole book-- is pretty loose. His commentary has a "wow, man, far out" sensibility (because it was the 60s and he was high on peyote a good deal of the time) but nevertheless there is something he was feeling (perhaps because he was high on peyote a lot at the time...) that really resonates with me. This peculiar metaphysical, almost spiritual quality of connection-- independent of time. Of being able to hear something in the buildings themselves, as though the beams and plaster could communicate through the intervening years, to you, right now.

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