Thursday, November 30, 2006

"urban" ku # 9


Another roadside attraction in Keeseville, NY.

Heading south just past Au Sable Chasm - the so-called "Oldest Natural Wonder In the USA" - there is a 2-3 mile stretch of highway with wall-to-wall faded remnants of a past tourism heyday. Since 1870, more than 10,000,000 visitors have come to the chasm which was intially billed as "The Little Grand Canyon of the East".

The chasm itself is literally a walk through early post Pleistocene geological history, but a walk or drive down the aforementioned stretch of Rt. 9 is trip through the last major tourism rush era - the 1950s. Especially prominent are a host of 50s-era motels, most still in operation, most every so gently time-worn. I have started to photograph this strip of highway as part of my ongoing project to photograph the Adirondacks in all of its many guises.

What I am working to capture is the "place-that-time-forgot/bypassed" look and feel of most of the peopled-parts of the Adirondacks. Tourism in the Adirondacks - a so-called rubber-tire destination - took a major hit in the late 50s as Americans took to the expanding interstates, all of which bypassed the Adirondacks. With the exception of the village of Lake Placid which experienced a brief period of 1980 Olympic's development, virtually all tourism related development came to a complete stop. Many of the grand old lodges closed and were eventually torn down.

Somehow though, most of the small family-run motels managed to survive to this day in one fashion or another. Today, the result is a virtual living museum of 50's-era cultural set pieces spread out through out the Adirondack Park - the largest wilderness in the east, an area larger than the state of Vermont.

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