Crane Worker with Debris 10081303 (Tim Cox)

Watching and making photographs of the men working on the old Depot, it makes me think of how much care is required in the restoration. It is clear that the building could be cleared with bull dozers but that would also damage the structure, so every piece of debris is taken out of the building by hand. At this point, after two weeks of work, the crew has removed seventeen containers of debris, each container holding “40 yards”. They are keeping track of the weight which I expect to be impressive. I have a greater appreciation for the effort in restoration having seen these men steadily clear away the damaged surfaces in temperatures that have passed 90 degrees, and days of high humidity, the air filled with dust and dirt. It is as if they are surgeons carefully removing the decayed skin of an enormous creature, revealing the bones beneath.

In their excavations ‘recuerdos’ have been found from the men who built the walls and floors that are now being stripped away. At first I wondered at the number of whisky bottles, and if all the workers drank during the building was whisky? In 1902 it wasn’t possible to walk across the street to Maria Mitrione’s and get a soda or a bottle of Aquafina, so the only real portable way to carry liquid with you into the structure, was a glass bottle of whisky that would fit into a pocket. I have to think that the people who left the empty bottles in the walls and ceilings were thinking that they would be found at some point in the future, and that it is their way of greeting the crews, and letting us know that they were thinking of us just as we hold a bottle that they held, and think of them. They built a structure that has seen a century pass, and with our efforts will see another.

In thinking so much of history, I decided to make this photograph look like it might have been found with the old bottles; a glimpse into a past that might have been, except for the gloves, dust mask and hard hat… and the plastic cup from McDonald’s.

Texture is courtesy of Jill in New Zealand:


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