Brownsville, PA

April 17, 2012

Awhile back, I posted an article to my Facebook page about Brownsville. Now I don’t have anything against this guy, or what he wrote. Calling it a ghost town is pretty accurate, to be honest. There are a handful of places still operating on the main drag through town, but it’s mostly boarded up buildings. What’s strange for me is to read about the place I live, especially in the context of being some mecca for photographers looking for some rust belt nostalgia. I’ve heard similar sentiments from some residents of Braddock (a lot of which was stirred up by the recent Levi’s ads that featured the area, or selective parts of it).

I never saw Brownsville in anything that could have been described as a “heyday,” but I do remember it being busier than it is now, and have seen a number of businesses close. As a kid, we got all of our prescriptions at the Thrift Drug in town, and my husband said all of his doctor appointments were in the Union Station building (for whatever reason, we went to Centerville Clinic). My mother used to get her sewing machine repaired there, by a guy that fixed sewing machines and refrigerators (I’m not sure where the overlap in skill is on that one). He passed away, and the shop closed. I used to waitress at the diner they reference in the article, and that’s one of the few places that is still open. I understand where some of the sentiment comes from, but hearing people romanticize the town is just a little weird to me.

I made a comment that if the Huffington Post wanted photos of Brownsville, that I could certainly hook them up. I thought instead, I’d share them here. It’s a random assortment of shots that I’ve taken in or of Brownsville since we moved back here in ’08, and I guess it’s my perspective on the place. I’m certainly better at photographing places than I am at writing about them.

 

So, any other locals want to weigh in? Out-of-towners planning to visit?

One Response to “Brownsville, PA”

  1. I like photographing decay. On occasion I wonder what the people still living in the places I photograph think and on occasion I meet and interesting local or two. Thanks for bringing Brownsville to my attention, I won’t be able to make it there right away, but I will visit someday.

    On the topic of partially abandoned places, I don’t take pictures of private residences unless they’re obviously abandoned and found it interesting on a recent trip to the Salton Sea that the friends I was with felt the same way. I guess in a world with Google streetview cataloging everything it doesn’t really matter, but I feel like it would be rude of me to just wantonly photographing individual homes.

    The photograph of the two Volkswagen Beetles is my favorite in the above series, the composition is just fantastic.

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