Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Anniversary Post #1: My Favorites from 2010

From Dave Brigham:

The photo above is the first one ever posted to this blog, back on March 1, 2010. I took that picture around the corner from my house, along a walking path on the Charles River. In the seven years since that introduction, this blog has published 422 posts from numerous authors/photographers, covering topics ranging from downed military planes (see Kristen Smith's "Lost Bomber" from March 14, 2011) to abandoned towns (see Mick Melvin's "Dearly Departed Dearfield," from July 9, 2010), hidden roads (see my "End of the Road" from January 24, 2011) to the long-vacant Naval Air Station South Weymouth (see Derek Watt's "Hangar Stake" from January 20, 2016), and so many things in between. Just search through the keywords running down the right side of the blog to get an idea of the breadth of this project.

By my count, we have posted at least one item about 36 individual states in the good ole US of A. I have tried over the life of the blog to enlist contributors from different regions of the country, in order to live up to the expansive title I gave this site. The bulk of the hundreds of posts here, however, cover five of the six New England states (we haven't shouted out to Rhode Island...yet), and, more specifically, the portion of eastern Massachusetts near where I live.

This is the first in a series looking back at some of my favorite posts we've run on the blog. This installment covers March - December 2010. Additional installments will look back at highlights of each of the years from 2011 - 2016. There will be other non-series posts in between these installments. Somewhere in this series I will get serious and discuss some of the challenges of running this site, as well as exciting changes coming to The Backside of America.

Before I get to my best-loved posts from 2010, I need to mention a very important omission. Joe Viger has contributed some amazing photos and fantastic write-ups over the years, but I'll be linking to very few of them in this series. Why? Because Joe -- an amazing photographer who has served as a mentor of sorts to me in that regard, and a great friend I've known for nearly 30 years -- has changed the security settings on his Flickr account so that many of his photos that have run on this blog show up as broken links now. I will instead direct you to his wonderful online portfolio.

From May 6, 2010, "Of Bradless and Muhammad Ali," in which Mick Melvin explores a symbol of how the Internet has had a negative impact on the brick-and-mortar retail world: an abandoned shopping center in Manchester, Connecticut. The shopping center was torn down a few years ago.

Also, some cool graphic art.

On June 8, 2010, David Burke wrote about the long-abandoned train station in Torrington, Connecticut, in "Meet Me At the Station (We'll Find a Way In)." I rarely explore inside abandoned buildings, and found myself jealous of David's ability to do so with this old building. He got some cool photos of the odd assortment of artifacts within. The station was torn down in 2011.

This is why we document the things we do. So many old buildings go into neglect and get torn down. People forget them.

"Bank Shots," posted by David Burke on June 14, 2010, features wonderful photos of the Terryville Bank & Trust building in Terryville, Connecticut, as well as a nice personal essay.

A local auto dealer acquired the neglected and dilapidated building in late 2015 and indicated that despite its initial hope to save the structure, the building was beyond help. I've been unable to find out whether the building has been torn down.

On July 25, 2010, I wrote about a spooky old place in Watertown, Massachusetts, that I'd dubbed the Scooby-Doo House, in "This Old, Decrepit House." I love the photo I took showing the layers of the old place peeled away. The house was torn down a month after I posted; condos were put up in its place.

Also in July 2010 I posted about and took photos of the Tin Man Diner in North Falmouth, Massachusetts, in "Two Hearts Beat as One." This is one of those rare times when I spoke with someone directly about the history of a place I profiled, instead of just doing research online. Unfortunately, the Tin Man Diner is no longer in business.

David Hill took his sailboat over to Peddocks Island in Boston Harbor one day, and wrote about it and shared some terrific photos on August 27, 2010, in "Shuttered Island." The island was used as a setting in Martin Scorsese's "Shutter Island" movie. The island is still open to the public.

The King is dead....I wish I could say "Long live the King," but the wall in Newton, Massachusetts, that once featured Elvis Presley's face was torn down. On October 16, 2010, in "Faded Glory," I posted some photos of that beautiful mural and others located in and around a playground in Nonantum section of Newton, known locally as The Lake.

The blog has featured very few human faces over the years. I hoped there would be some folks bowling the day I stopped by the Guido Salvucci Bocce Court in Boston's Brighton neighborhood.

Still, my November 18, 2010, post, "Guido's Court," gives the reader an appreciation of the old-world charm of the place. I believe the court is still active.

So that wraps up my nine favorite posts (out of 78) from the first 10 months of the blog. Stay tuned for more regular posts, as well as more installments about the future of The Backside of America and reviews of the years 2011-2016. And, as always, if you or someone you know would like to contribute, send me an email ( or a message on our Facebook page.

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