The Downtown Connector (75/85) is an interstate that stretches seven miles from Langford Parkway interchange to Brookwood Interchange; and it was built in the late 40s or early 50s, according to the few sources I could find. It looks like a typical highway, but there are a few interesting things that I noticed. I observed and recorded the presence of some homeless people sleeping and apparently living underneath an overpass; they were tucked away in the upper corners, sleeping under blankets on slabs of concrete. Apparently, they’ve grown accustomed to sleeping underneath overpasses, despite the roar of cars rolling overhead, and the smell of gasoline and burnt rubber. I also observed and recorded lots of trash and even glass on the sidewalk underneath this particular overpass. The monochromatic grey color scheme of the concrete and metal coupled with the sight of dirt, lack of light, trash, and homeless people made this site very gloomy, unwelcoming, and imposing.
Under The Overpass (AVI video)
To clarify, I don’t mean to say I don’t like homeless people. I just feel sorry for them–and I realize that rests on the faulty pretense that they’re not happy. Regardless, things looked a little better once I stood side-by-side with the interstate, but not by much. But before I go into that, let me just say that it was a little difficult for me to reach the side of the interstate because of fences that in some cases had barbed wire. Luckily for me, I found a damaged part of a fence that allowed me to cross. The extra light did improve the atmosphere of the place, but it was overwritten by the sight of a two-directional seven-mile long slab of metal and concrete with cars racing down it towards home or work, conjuring in me ideas of monotony, boredom, and impersonality. To me it just looks like an ugly giant machine.
Next to The Downtown Connector (AVI video)
The only thing human about this site are the homeless, the graffiti, and the foot prints in the sidewalk. I see these people and artifacts wrestling with this machine. Despite the lifeless highway, there are some people who live underneath it. And despite the artificiality and durability of concrete, there are some who spray paint over it with human expression—or walk in it before it settles. I guess I’m not much of a city guy.