America in the 1970s

I’ve mentioned that The Atlantic’s In Focus is one of my favourite sites. This past week curator Alan Taylor gave us Documerica Week. The five-part series featured cuts from the Documerica Project, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency photography project aimed at capturing the relationship between modern life and the environment.

Friday’s part 5: The Pacific Northwest was especially stunning, featuring pictures of Alaska during oil pipeline construction, and Seattle and Portland during the 1973 energy crisis. The pictures capture a kind of alienation that comes from having a deep connection with our environment (the intense backdrop of the Northwest) severed, as well as the kind of connectedness and purity we often long for when we dream about great landscapes, cities, and adventures. The entire series is full of this juxtaposition, especially the entries on The Southwest and Texas, though the Northwest set is really excellent, and has the advantage of easily romanticized mountains, coasts, rivers, and forests as well as the well-known juxtaposition of oil-pipelines and their surroundings.

Oil pipeline construction camp in Alaska

“Looking east along Alaska’s Glen Highway, toward Mount Drum (Elevation 12,002 Feet) at the intersection of the highway and the under-construction Trans-Alaska Pipeline in August 1974. The 48-inch diameter pipeline will cross the roadway between the two vehicles. The exact point is marked by a pair of wooden stakes along the right shoulder at Mile 673. (Dennis Cowals/National Archives and Records Administration)”

Check out the whole series:

Part 1 America in the 1970s: New York City

Part 2 America in the 1970s: The Southwest

Part 3 America in the 1970s: Chicago’s African-American Community

Part 4 America in the 1970s: Texas

Part 5 America in the 1970s: The Pacific Northwest

Which photos/series are your favourites? Why?

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One Response to America in the 1970s

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