in the Public Realm
Cityscapes of Boston

 FOREWORD by Robert Campbell
Peter Vanderwarker's photographs set the present and the past side by side, in paired images like two halves of one time-warped stereograph. It's instructive and even moving to read Peter's description of how he printed the contemporary set of views. He placed the historic print on the enlarging easel, then projected the negative of the contemporary scene onto it. The practical reason was to match the two perfectly in cropping and size.

Yet there's a poetic metaphor at work too: the present is literally projected onto the past; the past shows through the present like the pentimento of a painting. In a time-layered city like Boston the past really does show through the present, creating most of the city's visual richness. Yet a doubt remains. Can we ever really know the past? Aren't these paired pictures terribly misleading? Imagine the old-time photographer coming to his scene with his cumbersome equipment. He comes at dawn, when the streets are clear of the traffic he knows will show merely as a disfiguring blur because of the long exposure his film requires. The dawn light is soft. There are few people around and nothing kicks up the dust of the street. With leisure, the photographer composes his view. Or perhaps he waits till another day, when a parade will fill his street and bunting embellish its buildings.


225 SITES 
Peter Vanderwarker
Robert Campbell
The Boston Globe
The Boston Public Library