Monday, May 12, 2008

Urban decay in West Louisville

Since the city-county merger of 2003, Louisville has been eager to join the fraternity of medium sized American cities. Key to that has been the redevelopment of vital downtown locations. Creating Waterfront Park and 4th Street Live!, demolishing the Clarksdale housing projects being demolished to create Liberty Green, has all been a movement to attract suburbanites and urban professionals back into the heart of the city.

The new Louisville we're trying to become is a city incomplete, still under construction. But one where there's an ongoing debate about what to do with I-64 and a future downtown stadium. And let's not forget the 'Possibility City' campaign.

There's another story, however. It's a part of the Louisville-Jefferson County merger either forgotten by city fathers and mothers or something that was never included in the original plan.

And freelance photographer Abdul Sharif, is committed to telling that side of the story.

"For many people, the scenes of boarded up houses and vacant graffiti ridden businesses in the West End have become a norm," Sharif said in an interview with The SOULution. "I believe that when something so detrimental starts to become so normal, people start to become desensitized to it." Introduced to photography by his 9th grade Spanish teacher when he attended Shawnee High School, Sharif believes accentuating the problem of decay with visual documents will re-awaken the entire city to what some of Louisville’s urban areas truly look like.

"I only hope that my photos can bring about awareness to some of the social, and economic issues that are facing certain urban areas in the city of Louisville."

Sharif's photo essay @ JPG Magazine:

These photos represent a community in need. A community that is headed on a downward spiral. True, not all homes in West Louisville are boarded-up. But to ignore the areas of West Louisville that are decaying, would be like a teacher turning his back on one of his student that cannot read because he or she has nine other students that can.

Check out Abdul Sharif's work here, here and here.

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