Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Sometimes, a picture truly is worth a thousand words . . .
We shot this little gem at the railroad tracks just outside of Downtown Binghamton. I love that these words are scrawled on a surface that so perfectly describes WHY young people hate it here: the rusty, crusty, railroad trestle is such a powerful statement about this Rust Belt city, what it used to be and what it has become.
I was at a meeting where the city was trying to come up with a good slogan or something for the city's key gateways, something that would give visitors a sense of place. A neighboring village, Johnson City, has big 1920s-era concrete arches that say "Gateway to the Square Deal Towns."
Not helpful for you, the casual visitor, right? It is actually a reference to Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company, which was just about the biggest shoe manufacturer in the world for the first half of the 20th century, churning out 50,000 pairs of shoes per day and outfitting virtually every soldier in WWI and WWII. After bringing in generations of European immigrants to work in the tanneries, and building loads of housing, parks, hospitals, theaters, and other public buildings, the company fizzled out as manufacturing moved overseas in the 1960s and 70s.
The much-revered founder, Harry L. Johnson (or just "George F" and "Harry L" as they - and seemingly 1/2 of the streets, parks, museums, etc. are called locally) believed in the "square deal"- that is, an honest day's work for an honest day's pay, I think.
Anyway, it's not "Home of the Square Deal," it's even 1 removed from that- it's the GATEWAY to the (even lamer) Square Deal towns.
OK, so back to the meeting where they were thinking of a slogan for Binghamton's gateways, and all I could think was, "Welcome to Binghamton: Gateway to the Rust Belt" or "Welcome to Binghamton: Northern Gateway to Appalachia."
Damn, I'm good. I should be in marketing.