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Thursday, October 09, 2008

What they say about Springfield

I came across this conversation under a photo of the Illinois State Capitol Building on Flickr. From the photographer:

Springfield smashed the sterile, Truman Show image I carried around in my head of my state capital. This town is in trouble -- at least the sections I wandered around. House after house was boarded up and the streets were fashioned with the seemingly out-of-work. I regret not having company to feel more secure about getting some really gritty shots.

It's true. A commenter replied:

Springfield is definitely a gritty town with a lot of problems... and of course the problems are worse these days. It makes me wonder what's going to happen to us all if things don't start changing.

The photographer responded:

I keep telling myself to give the city the benefit of the doubt -- that I was just missing my fantasy town but I have had my illusion crushed with several confirming reports. The beginning of this trip was a real eye-opener for me. I consider myself "plugged in" to current events -- almost to the point of obsession -- but the connection was not made until I wove my way through Illinois, Missouri, and the other states and /experienced/ what I hear about on the radio so regularly. My benign subdivision seemed so far away from what I scanned with my eyes. My renewed passion for photography gets most of the credit for allowing the truth that the lens offers to be given to me. It's disturbing but I am grateful for the experience.

Don't be insulted by their words. I'm not. But, something does need to be done. And we're just a few months away from Lincoln's 200th birthday.

Posted by Marie at October 9, 2008 9:45 PM


It's really disheartening to see the way our city has declined. I was always proud that we were one of the families who chose to live IN Springfield rather than moving to one of the smaller villages outside the city limits. Now? At least once a week, Mr. ThirtyWhat asks, "When are we going to MOVE?"

The question is ... what can we do to turn this AROUND?

Posted by: ThirtyWhat at October 10, 2008 7:05 AM

I read all the comments that went along with the entirely innocuous picture of the state Capitol, and I admit I don't get it: What is the horrible urban decay that's besetting your town. I was there a few years back and drove around with my elderly father and even walked around the Capitol neighborhood with him, taking pictures. I don't recall feeling like I was in a "Shawn of the Dead" scene. It makes me wonder what folks from Mid-America might say if they walked around San Francisco or the neighborhood where my wife teaches, in what's called East Oakland.

Posted by: Dan at October 14, 2008 9:48 AM

Dan, it's true. Some neighborhoods are really bad. Plus, there's a lot of vacant office space downtown and it shows. The guy who took the picture must have gotten off the beaten path because, like you said, the areas around the Capitol building, while old, are in pretty good shape. Although, I think I noticed he lives in Woodstock, Illinois. So, that may have something to do with his perception.

Posted by: Marie at October 15, 2008 5:02 PM