Thursday, September 25, 2008

History revised.


September 25, McHenry.
Traveling in the West with Chimera the encroachment of suburbia was pervasive, every town like a giant construction site, shopping malls and housing developments sprouting up in every corner of the landscape, raw, ungainly.
It is less evident around the rest of the country, at least as far as I can see, maybe because land is not as bountiful. Yet here in McHenry, a northwestern exurb of Chicago, you can see it happening as well. And lost in the middle of row after row of brand new townhouses and homes and chain stores sit a farmhouse and its barn and out-buildings, and ironically, the name of the farm, in faded blue letters on the barn, is "City View Farm".
It is as if history had been turned on its head, Manifest Destiny inside out. Instead of the great westward expansion to claim land the great surge to expand by erasing it, gobbling up great chunks of farmland and churning them back a blank slate of boxes and warehouses, the promise of a few skinny trees, here and there, a paltry reminder of what once was.

2 comments:

MatCoes said...

I'm sorry to hear that McHenry is getting swallowed up.
I lived and worked in Richmond, (McHenry County) for John Cuneo's tiger outfit. I enjoyed the landscape and people so different from where I'm from. I wonder if the character of the country is becoming homogenized along with the 'burbs.
There's a beautiful Tom Waits song "she grew up outside—McHenry, in Johnsburg, Illinois".

Valérie Berta Torales said...

A Tom Waits song, cool! (and I thought I knew them all...)
The way I see traveling around the country like this, it IS becoming homogenized, and this is frighteningly true in the West especially, where everything begins looking the same after a while, the same chains, the same box home developments, ad nauseum, the infamous Walmartization of the country. I think you're losing a lot of your soul in the process. In the Chicago Tribune this Sunday there was also a wonderful photo story in the magazine on a small town in Iowa that has lost a long list of businesses since 1984, when a photographer shot portraits of pretty much all of the town, and 2004, when he came back to shoot them all again.