Laundry on a clothesline. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photograph taken by Amatoga Jérémie.
Laundry on a clothesline. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photograph taken by Amatoga Jérémie.

Walking Tour, Round 2

Laundry on a clothesline. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photograph taken by Amatoga Jérémie.

I took the picture on the left first. In the moment, I was surprised to see that there were still people who hung their laundry out to dry. I thought to myself that this must be a rare occurrence in the neighborhood because it did not seem like a place where such private affairs would be displayed in such a public manner. Then, as I walked a bit further, I noticed that, behind a house that I was inspecting, there were clothes hanging out to dry in the backyard. Apparently, this is not an isolated event and that there must be a tacit agreement on such activity. The mere fact that there is laundry hanging out to dry is indicative of a working class neighborhood. But, why have these two separate households decided to hang their laundry out to dry rather than simply placing them in a dryer? There may be a number of explanations. Is it economic? Can these people afford a dryer? I ask this because it is not just the cost of purchasing a dryer that must be considered but rather the electricity bill as well. Is their dryer malfunctioning? If so, why didn’t they go to the laundromat? Maybe they wanted to take advantage of the beautiful weather. Is it a cultural thing? In some places, such as Madrid, Spain, the air is very dry so they hang their laundry. Is this a display for nostalgia for simpler times? I don’t know the answers to some of these questions but it was definitely interesting to think about.

Backyard bonding. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photograph taken by Amatoga Jérémie.
Backyard bonding. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photograph taken by Amatoga Jérémie.

If you look closely at the individuals in the picture, you can see that they are of Asian descent and that the one woman on the right-hand side is holding a small object in her hand. Since the picture is not clear and I could not exactly see or hear what they were doing, I can only speculate as to the meaning of this moment. Are they harvesting this plant? If so, for what purpose (i.e. medical, spiritual, edible)? What kind of plant is this? Where is it from? Are they family or are they friends? Do they live in the neighborhood or do they just come to take care of the plant? Did they actually plant it or did it exist beforehand? These are the questions I am beginning to ask myself as I take these tours. Pictures really do mean a thousand words.

An elevated house. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photograph taken by Amatoga Jérémie.

DSC_0013Though this is not the best example, this does accurately illustrate the difference I noticed between houses on the right side of the street and houses on the left. The house to the right is elevated and the house to the left is basically on the ground, which makes the positioning of their ground floors different from each other. My first assumption was that it is due to flooding — perhaps this neighborhood is in a flood zone because I also noticed that the street was slanted toward the right (which may account for the fact that the homes on this side are elevated). So my questions with regard to this topic are: Is this a flood zone? If so, does this make the neighborhood more affordable? Are taxes and mortgages lower, etc?

Man carrying groceries. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photograph taken by Amatoga Jérémie.Man carrying groceries. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photograph taken by Amatoga Jérémie.

This picture is funny because I took it without thinking whether it’d be relevant or even valuable but then I realized that it brought up some pertinent questions. This man is walking home with some groceries. Although I do not know what these bags contain, the fact that I don’t know leads me to ask  whether he lives alone or with a family? How far was the store? The house in the background is his house and I saw him walking so I know he did not take his car. Was it a grocery store or a corner store? Where is the nearest grocery store? Would it be more accessible to the neighborhood with the arrival of the Green Line?

Contemporary House. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photograph taken by Amatoga Jérémie.
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Contemporary House. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photograph taken by Amatoga Jérémie.

DSC_0032This house seemed as though it has been recently renovated. It has been re-constructed in a contemporary style, which makes it more modern and chic. Judging by the number of mailboxes, I assume it is multi-family. I cannot recall whether there were any businesses there. I imagine that the kind of people who live there are adventurous, young professionals, but I may be totally wrong.

I mentioned earlier that these homes were a clearer indication of socioeconomic class. My claim was wrong because as I kept walking I came to an apartment complex with a nice motorcycle in front. The apartment complex itself looked as though it catered to more working class individuals. The potted plants and flags made it seem more cozy and the style of the apartment was slightly outdated.

Apartment complex. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photographs taken by Amatoga Jérémie.

Satellite dishes. Who knew satellite dishes could actually be interesting and useful for anything besides watching television? Well, they are because they reveal a lot about who is living in a house, for example, how many people are living in a house, how many rooms there are, affordability, a neighborhood’s attitude toward cable versus satellite television, and what kinds of television services and companies are offered to a neighborhood.

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Satellite dishes. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photographs taken by Amatoga Jérémie.

Satellite dishes. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photographs taken by Amatoga Jérémie.

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Brazilian store "For Rent" sign. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photographs taken by Amatoga Jérémie.
Brazilian storefront “For Rent” sign. Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods, September 2010. Photographs taken by Amatoga Jérémie.

This was the complete opposite of Union Square and Cambridge/Washington Street. Whereas in Union Square there was an inundation of Brazilian businesses, the Gilman/Lowell neighborhoods had an insignificant, if not altogether nonexistent presence. This “for rent” sign confirmed my suspicion. What circumstances caused the Brazilian hair salon to move? Was it economic? Where did it move to? If businesses are already moving out of the neighborhoods before the arrival of the Green Line due to high rental costs, then what will happen when the Green Line arrives? Which businesses will thrive and which will fail?