Growing up in South Jersey, we used to watch the fireworks in Camden each year. There is a vibrant waterfront with museums, an aquarium, The Battleship New Jersey, and a great concert venue. Beyond the river banks is a desolate city labeled for years as America’s poorest and most dangerous. There are no downtown shops, restaurants, and galleries. There are no farmers markets or fresh produce (In the recent years, the city got its first supermarket since the 80s). Drugs and violence plague the streets, jobs are scarce, and many blocks are abandoned.
My father and I headed into town around 7 AM on a Sunday morning. We drove for about 10 blocks before seeing a single person. No cafes, coffee shops, or dog walkers… just boarded up and run down storefronts and a line of people sleeping on the sidewalk. We drove around for a while and found this cover. It made us think about the men and women who devote their lives to public service. In a city where most have given up, they are out there trying to make it a better place.
Big shout out to the police, fireman, educators, counselors, and everyone else out there keeping a sense of hope and pride in a city that desperately needs it.
Original Artwork made directly from a utility cover in Camden, NJ.