Urban Renewal (Lawrence, MA)

urbanrenewalThere are several collections of urban renewal photographs.

1. This collection is composed of 133 black and white photographs taken in 1958 before urban renewal.  The studio responsible for the photographs was Anthony’s Studio, 283 Broadway in Lawrence, Massachusetts (2001.8).

2. In October of 2002 Anthony Ciofiolo, the owner of Anthony’s Studio, donated the 4×5 negatives from which the prints were originally made.  There were 160 negatives in this collection (2002.14).  There were 2 prints without matching negatives and 30 negatives without matching prints.

3. This collection is composed of 118 8×10 black and white photographs in 1969 Before Redevelopment.  Many of the properties were torn down in the process of redevelopment.  There is no evidence of authorship (2001.7).

4. Snapshots (2004.9).

Urban renewal may be characterized as a process of conserving, rehabilitating, or clearing and reconstructing parts of a city to preserve or modernize the physical environment or to adapt districts to entirely new purposes or uses.  This process was made necessary by the continued disintegration of American cities.  After the Second World War the country recognized the socioeconomic costs of the slums and blighted areas in the nation’s cities.  Urban renewal was seen as a way of creating economic benefits from new development.

The first area targeted in Lawrence was 35 acres north of the Merrimack River between Lawrence Street and Broadway, Common and Bradford Streets.  The project was called Common, Valley, and Concord Streets Urban Renewal Project.  Census data showed that the area was predominately sub-standard housing.  Since the blocks were so near the main shopping district the city government felt that there were attractive reuse possibilities.  The Lawrence Housing Authority, consisting of five appointed members, (William A. Troye, chairman, Louis N. Fournier, vice chairman, Fred J. Watts, treasurer, John A. Callahan, and Felix L O’Neill) was responsible for making decisions.  Anthony’s Studios (Anthony Ciofolo) was hired in 1959 to take a series of photographs of the targeted area before any demolition.

The land was acquired and demolition began.  The cleared land was made available to developers for a wide range of uses; retail stores, offices, general commercial uses, laboratories, and hotels as well as well as garden or high-rise apartments.  The developers were invited to submit proposals for the development of parcels in the project site.  The remaining 21 acres were put up for bid in the mid 1960s.

There were a number of later projects through the 1960s and 1970s.

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