Share this photo on Twitter Share this photo on Facebook

Paradise Paved

Posted by
Stephen Phillips (San Francisco, United States) on 18 October 2009 in Documentary & Street and Portfolio.

An ode to Joni Mitchell's 'Taxi' -

"Don't it always seem to go,
that you don't know what you got 'til it's gone,
They pave paradise,
and put up a parking lot."

A beautiful twilight over West Oakland, Califonia. Less than two hundred years ago - this would have been a broad tidal marshland - just east and south of The Golden Gate. Wetlands teaming with oysters, bay shrimp, salmon, bass, sturgeon, and endless waterfowl. The bay is now one-third of the size that it was in 1849. The vast majority of the low tidal lands having been filled for housing, airports, and industry.

I was amazed the first time I saw this interchange of Interstate 880. Completely paved and electronically controlled. Nothing visible but by the hands of man. A fortune in reinforced concrete as far as the eye can see.

As I explored the area. Up behind the retaining wall behind me here are a long row of blue spruce evergreens. They were planted (one assumes) as part of the freeway 'beautification'. They are all completely brown and bent to the ground - dead. A fitting tribute in an urban void. Perhaps victims of California's ceaseless budget breakdowns.

© copyright 2018 by Stephen Phillips Photography / Oakland, California /
please respect these rights - do not copy or use these images without permission.

Pepe Villanueva Cabrera from Cuidad de Antipolo, Philippines

Yes, beautiful twilight. excelent shot!

18 Oct 2009 7:58am

Paco Díaz from Palma de Mallorca, Spain

These lonely scenes are really beautiful with these warm colors. Good series.

18 Oct 2009 8:04am

Mike from Lichfield, United Kingdom

A graffiti artist's heaven by the looks of things.

18 Oct 2009 8:29am

susan from United States

Cool shot, and although it looks empty, I see the remnants of traffic passing by, don't I ?

18 Oct 2009 3:05pm

@susan: Thank you, Susan - and indeed you do detect light trails from three cars and a truck over 30 seconds.

Scott F. Schilling from San Martin, United States

Stephen this shot is very lonely and cold and fitting for your commentary! it almost has an abstract feel to it - very nice work!

18 Oct 2009 6:22pm

Marcie from Newton, United States

Love the colors in this...the sad and solitary moodiness. Wonderful light!!!

18 Oct 2009 6:31pm

Chris from South Jersey, United States

kind of eerie, could be a scene from a sci fi movie (one of those where there are no more natural spaces)....great moody shot...

18 Oct 2009 7:20pm

Alun from cheshire, United Kingdom

very good long exsposure

18 Oct 2009 8:19pm

Walter from Watkinsville, United States

What a great image. The vehicle lights just add to the magic of this being devoid of anything alive. A true man made place that is completely cold and lifeless on its own.

19 Oct 2009 12:06am

Rags from Plano, United States

so beautiful!

19 Oct 2009 3:24am