Coolest Small Town in America
Google the town of Lititz--“Coolest Small Town in America” is what you will find. This small, South East Pennsylvania town was voted as the coolest little town in America in 2013. The town has a history rooted in the Moravian Church, and manufacturing beer, chocolate, and pretzels. Now it is marketed as a hip town with rock and roll stars, upscale condos and farm to table restaurants. The work presented in this project centers around the reconstruction of this community. Having lived in Lititz my whole life, I am conflicted with the changes. On one hand it brings commerce and great opportunities into the town, but on the other hand historic landmarks are being torn down to make way for the new buildings.
The Lititz that is portrayed in the media is different than the Lititz that is experienced by the community. As a photographer who has grown up in the town, and knows the strength of the community first hand, I feel an obligation/compulsion, to document the change. The subjects of the photographs are things that I have known my entire life as a kid and teenager. You can see how time has taken its toll on the town: a billboard post on the way out of town has remained empty, or through the abandoned train tracks that cut their way through the center of town. I also photograph the fields being paved away to make room for fifty-five up communities and buildings being torn down for luxury condos. What happens when the things that made this town “cool” to the inhabitants originally, start to fade away and are knocked down to make way for a more tourist friendly environment?
Small towns everywhere are trying to survive by finding ways to keep people from moving to city centers. In times like these, photography can preserve a history and remind us to move forward in a way that does not tread on the past.