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Announcing the Downtown Photo Project
Although it may seem like downtown development projects come and go with the seasons, change is happening before our eyes. In the next five years, Fresno will have a dramatically different downtown. At a minimum, there will be hundreds of new housing units, thousands of square feet of new retail, and one fuzzy collective memory of what things looked like before.
It's not just the structures that will change, but the energy and feel of the neighborhoods. There will be people on the sidewalks and cars parked in the street at night.
What will happen to the decor at the lazy Fajita Fiesta restaurant on Divisadero and Van Ness when it's packed with hipsters on Friday and Saturday night, with a 15 minute wait for a table? Will it look the same?
We've already lost too many downtown landmarks. The Vagabond pool is a vivid memory for some, but urban legend for others. Who can remember what the Wilson Marquee looked like before Cornerstone Church put up a digital display?
We think it's important to document this time in downtown's history, right before the first wave of new residents and businesses move in. Preserving our history, even if it is one of boarded up buildings and empty lots, has meaning.
Photographing every block downtown is a huge task. But with hundreds of volunteers, it becomes much easier.
What we're proposing
It's an experiment in distributed journalism: each individual photographer takes on a small piece of the overall project. Adopt a city block, or two. Take digital photos of the buildings and streets around you. In five years, they'll look much different.
How you can help
We need as many amateur photographers as we can get. Explore an area of downtown, and photograph what you see. Then upload your digital photos to the Fresno Famous group on Flickr. Flickr is a free online photo storage service. To register, all you need is an email address. To join the Fresno Famous group, simply click on the "Join this group" button.
To offer an incentive to get out there and take photos, we'll be giving away a Flickr Pro account once a month through September. The winner will be chosen at random from those who contribute photos.
What we'll to the photos
The project will close September 30. We'll then create a virtual downtown Fresno online with your photos. To see how far we've come, it will be useful to remember where we've been.
This is a community-wide project. Anyone with a digital camera is welcomed and encouraged to participate. Any questions, please leave a comment.