Alex Goldmark is a senior producer in the newsroom for New Tech City and Transportation Nation.
Striking Vintage EPA Photos Show Troubling Proximity of People and Pollution in 1970s
Friday, March 29, 2013 - 09:06 AM
These photos are beautiful. They're also sad, and hopeful, and quaint.
In the 1970s the EPA commissioned photographers to roam the country and document daily life in places like coal mines, riverbanks, cities, and even an early clean tech conference in a motel parking lot. The images were meant to be a baseline to measure change in the years to come, but there was no funding to go back to the original places.
The Documerica project photos are up on Flickr now (hat tip to FastCoExist for posting some of these gems). It's an overwhelming album of nostalgia for everyday life, but also, devastatingly depressing to see how dirty and toxic so many inhabited places could be in the 1970s ... and how little has changed in some places today.
What makes the project so powerful though, is how beautiful the photography is, even of the mundane moments, or tragic scenarios like kids playing in a river next to a power plant.
Strum through the albums yourself and share your favorites with us on our Facebook page and we'll add more pics to this post later on.
In the albums, there are also early editions of clean technology, like Frank Lodge's photos from the first First Symposium on Low Pollution Power Systems held at what seems to be a motel parking lot.