January 2, 2010

365 Project: Day 73

This is the Port Arthur Seawall. It is 16 feet tall and it protects much of the coastline in Jefferson County from flooding. I only remember visiting the seawall a handful of times when I was a kid. All of my dance recitals were held at a school auditorium right up the street and I vaguely remember driving down there at Christmas time and looking at the lights.

This used to be the main part of town. Proctor street was the place to be when my grandparents were young. There were hotels, restaurants, shopping, night clubs and bars. When my mom was a little girl, she and my grandfather saw Janis Joplin walking down the street wearing a feather boa. Janis was from Port Arthur. Now most of those buildings are closed up, the businesses have moved out. There are only a handful left. This area of town has become so sad. There are a lot of beautiful historical homes right along the seawall, but beyond that, the place is falling apart. Many houses and buildings are still boarded up and damaged from Hurricane Ike and that was well over a year ago. The worst part is that people are still living in them in that condition. There are streets full of houses that are abandoned, condemned and falling apart.

Now, downtown Port Arthur is thought of as a dangerous place to be. I had wanted to go downtown to take some pictures for a while now and I was too scared to go alone. A young woman walking down the street alone with an expensive camera is an easy target. My dad and I made plans to get up early and take a drive around so I had someone to go with me. My mom came along with us and neither of them could believe the condition the city was in. They both grew up in the area and they didn't even recognize the place.

How does this happen? Where did everyone go? The main industries, fishing and oil, are still there. Why did people leave? Its disappointing to see the city where I grew up in shambles.

What do you do about that though? You can't just knock it all down and start over. Its such a huge undertaking to try and rebuild it. It seems that there is nothing you can really do without massive amounts of funding. I'm sure people don't see the point of even trying anymore. So, everyone moves away or just pretends its not there anymore. They allow an area that was once alive and vibrant to sit and decompose.

No comments: