In 1966 the Lake Oswego Development Department sent a photographer to document the condition of its downtown.
Rendered in black and white, and without the context of the surrounding areas, these images simultaneously abstract a sense of place and heighten it.
Presumably taken purely for pragmatic institutional purposes, through a different lens, some 55 years later, these images possess within them the possibility to provide commentary on the transformation both physical and social that have occurred in Lake Oswego.
But should the photographic objectivity of these images be questioned? Was there a motivation on behalf of the Development Department at the time, and thus the photographer, to advance a particular narrative or point-of-view? Or was the compositional and contextual oversimplification just the response to the imagemaker’s assignment?
Lake Oswego has, without question, experienced a tremendous transformation since the time of its original inhabitants, the native Clackamas people. And while perhaps nothing more than a snapshot in time, these photographs provide a moment of reflection on where we’ve come from and a reminder of changes yet to come.
Photos courtesy of the Lake Oswego Public Library.