Monday, July 4, 2011

Before the economic crash

Economic ideas and philosophies may seem abstract, but they can also lead to some undeniably concrete material changes on social and geographic landscapes.  Back in 2006, I was working in Cultural Resource Management (CRM) archaeology in Southern California.  This was right about the time when the housing market peaked--and development projects were everywhere.  This included golf courses, roads, power lines, hotels, and of course housing projects.  In one sense, CRM is all about archaeology, history, and preservation.  In another sense, however, it is merely one small bureaucratic link in a larger developmentalist machine--I suppose it all depends on where you stand.  

Between 2004 and 2006 I worked on several projects throughout San Diego County, and would often take photographs of some of the development projects and changing landscapes that were all around the project sites.  One of the strongest memories I have from those years is seeing the sheer scale of some of the housing developments and wondering how they were even feasible.  There were tract home development projects out in Eastern San Diego that were massive--and I am talking about the size (and price) of the individual houses.  Some of them (see the third image below for an example) were listed as high as $800,000 to one million dollars if my memory serves me right--and these were tract homes!  I wondered then who could afford to put of the capital investment for such developments, and, more importantly, who had the money to buy such a house.  

Well, the meltdown of the global economy and the collapse of the real estate market in places like Southern California answered some of my questions: nobody, really, had that kind of money.  So, while I was technically out doing archaeological survey work, I was also witness to some of the material evidence of a massive financial bubble.  Here are a just a few photographs from the days when I was walking on the edges of investment, development, growth, and economic disaster.

Suburban neighborhood not far from Del Mar, CA.  2006.

Housing development project slicing into the side of foothills, eastern San Diego County.  2006.

New Housing development east of Poway, CA.  2006.

Golf course development, North San Diego County.  2006.

New housing development on top of former landfill.  Eastern Oceanside, CA.  2006.

Golf course development #2, North San Diego County.  2006.

Housing pads awaiting future homes.  East of Poway, CA.  2006.

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