a simple portrait of an urban place

From time to time, a single image captures the look and feel of city life, and successfully depicts an urban place where people come together.

This morning, I had the opportunity on the “Place Matters” radio show to explain the role of photography in placemaking, as a tool to better define the personal, contextual experience of a neighborhood or city venue.

The interior scenes of “the three B’s”—barbershops, bars and billiards—often mean as much as the magic of street and square when portraying the personal interactions of cities, towns and neighborhood.

To me, this proposition demands an example, and the photo above portrays such an interior space within a dense urban neighborhood after midnight.

As I wrote last summer about the closures of Borders bookstores, such imagery says more than is apparent at first glance about how local, sustainable “third places” foster the spirit of human collaboration.

Photograph composed by the author.

9 thoughts on “a simple portrait of an urban place

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  3. Emelen

    I love that statement, that interior spaces like barbershops and bars can tell us a great deal about the unique urban environments that we inhabit. The 3 B’s named, though, are primary domains of adult men. I’d expand those third places to include bookstores (be they Borders or local independents), bakeries/cafes, buses/busstops/bus stations, and even laundromats. They’re less glamorous locations, but you’d certainly catch a greater cross-section of urban dwellers. Even the photo displayed doesn’t fully convey “urban bar” to me: 3 young, white men gathered around a pool table inside a polished interior with crests decorating the floor. Maybe it’s just me, but my mind immediately goes to college campus bar – a place where students congregate. I do agree that photography has a hugely significant role in placemaking.

  4. Thank you. I totally agree about the three B’s—and the photo limitations— and was conscious of the implications. I rationalized that when taken in the context of previous articles, photographs and my comments on the Place Matters radio show, I would achieve the more holistic view you suggest…

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