SOMERVILLE SALMAGUNDI

The word salmagundi often refers to a mixture of food, but it is also a colorful term used to describe any heterogeneous mixture— a medley, montage, hodgepodge, smorgasbord, jambalaya—you get the idea. This gallery is like that—it contains a selection of my favorite street photos, but without the sort of consistent theme with which I have organized my other photo essays. The only common denominator of the of the photo subjects in this gallery is simply having been taken in Somerville. I selected them because I find them to be visually interesting, or because they tell a story, or just because they reveal fun facets of this city’s streetscapes. Somerville residents will likely recognize some of these images, but even if you don’t live in the ‘Ville I hope you too will enjoy the variety of shapes, colors and textures in this Somerville salmagundi.

(Note: the photos are more fun to see full size, so click on them to enlarge them.)

Of course, if you take enough photos in a single location, over time you are likely to find some similarities in subject matter, and my collection of Somerville photos is no exception. I’ve grouped a few photos with similar subjects together when, with a little bit of text, they can convey something more specific about Somerville.

Another example: Somerville has an active community of bikers, and the city has supported them by finding space (not uncontroversially) for Bikeshares and bike lanes, making the city a notably bike-friendly community. Aside from the laudable environmentally friendly aspects of biking, I sometimes find visual interest in the everyday sight of bikes at rest in yards or on the street.

For example: Somerville is a densely packed city—in fact, it is the most densely populated city in New England, which means that space—whether living space, green space or parking space—is at a premium (hence Somerville’s rapidly rising real estate prices). Unlike less populated suburban or rural areas, Somerville is not the kind of city where one would expect to see old or abandoned cars taking up space in a yard or driveway. And yet…

 

Other totally ordinary things—windows and doors and chairs—also add visual interest to the city’s streets.

Some of the photos above, but especially those below, are scenes and places once familiar to long-time Somerville residents, but are now gone, or going soon, casualties of gentrification. Remnants of the city’s characteristic industrial landscapes are still visible, but not for long, as they are replaced by businesses more attractive to younger, more affluent residents and visitors.

The two photos directly above were taken in 2006, when some long time residents foresaw, and (rightly) feared the coming impacts of the city’s changing demographics. They were right: the one to the right was taken in 2017, as gentrification was moving into full gear. The city is trying to mitigate the worst impacts of gentrification, but it is likely too late, as the over-development genies are already out of the bottle..