DLM revisited 50 years later

“This series was a real break for Lyon,” explains curator Barbara Tannenbaum.

Cleveland Museum of Art, Huck interview and review


“His historical place had already been cemented as a figure of the New Journalism. He had been doing projects where he immersed himself, becoming very involved with his subjects and part of their culture in order to photograph them from the inside. He has the ability to engage people in a way that allows them to be themselves in front of the camera.”

“This work is also a break in terms of technique. Many are done with 35mm camera but a number of the architectural photographs required use of a view camera, which he had never used before – so it was a learning experience. It is slow, carefully considered, calculated shot and it causes a different way of thinking. He has avoided all the clichés of architectural photography, and part of it may have been that he wasn’t trained in that so he was approaching it with a fresh eye.”

Yet progress is not always benevolent or beneficial; for every gain, there is an equal and opposite loss – a sensibility Lyon knew, as underscored by his eerily prescient title. The photographs are a eulogy of sorts, a tribute to a city built by hand that no longer exists.

“Lyon shows us the neighbourhood, warts and all. There’s a poignancy to that that helps to create a sense of intimacy. The sheer beauty of the photographs and the stately elegance to the composition slows you down and gets you to look and gets you involved in them,” Tannenbaum notes.

“The city that is no longer there is being preserved through these photographs. They tell you that this is something that was important, valued, and loved – even with the peeling paint and rusting cast iron façade. It is a story where you not only have a hero but you know that you have a tragic ending and it makes you value it all the more.”

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