Saturday, March 10, 2007

Baton Rouge, 1981

to imagine that these places once were new.

That they once were bustling centers of commerce, crowded with downtown shoppers.

Hotel guests at the old White House Inn.

Concertgoers at the old Independence Hall.

People just hangin' on a Saturday afternoon on Third Street . . . before suburbia, malls and the Interstate killed off downtowns across the United States.

I TOOK THESE PHOTOS for my photojournalism class (J 3065) at Louisiana State University . . . long ago and far away from where I am -- and who I am -- now. Just like Baton Rouge in 1981 was long removed and far away from what it was in, say, 1963. What remained were its ghosts.

AND NOW even those ghosts exist only in the furthest corners of the memories of aging folk. Like me.

NOTHING PICTURED HERE REMAINS. See the abandoned buildings straight above the lake in the top photo? The old Our Lady of the Lake Hospital.

HUEY LONG DIED THERE. I was born there. Gone.

THE DECAYING, ghostly presences from a heyday long lost fell to make room for new construction and the promise -- maybe -- of a new heyday in the Red Stick someday. Somehow.


THAT, I SUPPOSE, depends on what still haunts Baton Rouge (or insert name of your hometown here). On whether it can hold on to its benevolent spirits and exorcise its demons . . . while it still might.



Jason said...

But so many things in Baton Rouge have now been restored. There's hardly any real estate left downtown anymore.

Colleen said...

Uhhhhhhhh, I beg to differ with Jason on that point. Really interesting photos, I like the old entrance to Sears.

Anonymous said...

are there any other photos you could post of baton loving them!

Anonymous said...

Have you got anything else of the old White House Inn? It was also known as the Governor's Inn, the Lakeshore Statler-Hilton Inn, the White House Inn and finally the Inn on the Lake. It was to have been renamed the Safari Hotel for a brief period in the 1980s, but that plan fell through. I believe it was imploded in the early 1990s.


Tom Barnes

The Mighty Favog said...

Sorry, Tom. That's all I have of that.