Wednesday, June 22, 2016

American River

PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: Immigrants bought their train tickets on Ellis Island and waited for ferries taking those who were bound West here (Jersey City) or to Hoboken, while those heading East boarded ferries into Manhattan. Twelve agents typically sold 25 tickets per minute throughout the day. This is the train shed in Jersey City. It is directly adjacent to Ellis Island, and for many immigrants this was where they entered the restless flow of the nation.

The shed is in decay. Vegetation grows from the undulating roof, and the space beneath is secured by chain link fence. It was something of a challenge to poke a camera lens in at an appropriate angle. Even in its emptiness, it is bustling. The train shed was completed between 1912 and 1914.

The terminal building, below, was opened in 1889. At its peak in 1929, more than 65,000 people arrived or departed on 350 trains every day. Just beyond the terminal building are the crumbling ferry slips where passengers crossed through New York harbor.


Ginnie said...

There is suddenly a deep sadness in me, Ted, in realizing how very much of America itself, let alone its infrastructure, is in decay. That in and of itself is a book that seems to be developing from your archives?

Emery Roth II said...

The good news in this case is that the decay has been memorialized as part of Liberty Park adjacent to Ellis Island. Jersey City is quickly becoming an extension of lower Manhattan. That means that much of the old architecture is gone, and the new towers felt stark and empty when I was there on Saturday before the Sunday shoot. It undoubtedly influenced the pictures I made. However, I met and had lunch with old school friends, and met good people on the shoot.