Old bricks are, literally, pieces of history. They’re time made visible.
Brick walls are a bit of a joke among some photographers. Hard-core lens fanatics shoot them to see if their images have perfectly parallel lines and no distortion in the corners. For black-and-white , there’s all that interesting texture and detail. Whether anyone else actually enjoys those photos is sometimes irrelevant :-).
But I like time-worn bricks – and they have backstories. Looking at an old brick building, I can imagine its history, the things that have happened in and around it – the good times and bad. And I reflect on all the life – and the lives – that passed through it, as it drifted down that river of time, changing hands and finding new purposes.
Bricks can have color: in fact the image below is the same wall as the black-and white above. I don’t know the story of this wall but I think it used to have big ads painted on it, then maybe something by an artist later on – or maybe just kids having fun. Eventually new construction next door reduced its visibility so it was abandoned to the elements.
These bricks are part of a loading dock next to an old railway station near Minnehaha Falls here in Minneapolis. Minnehaha Depot was built in 1875 and closed in 1963 after the last freight train departed; today it’s preserved as history. A generation of horse-drawn carts and wagons rolled over these pavers, before motors came along.
Those bricks are stamped with the proud logo of the long-gone Flint Brick and Coal Co., from Des Moines, Iowa. Reclaimed Flint bricks now sell for a good price at local landscape stores.
Bricks aren’t all the same, and their appearance changes with time and weather. I think the designer of Minnehaha Depot chose to give it a little class by mixing bricks with different tints and compositions, and no doubt Flint’s sales rep had input. Today, if it’s been raining, and the sun comes out late in the day, they show their true colors – a strangely beautiful glimpse of the city’s deep past.
5 Replies to “Bricks”
Gosh Jim, you remind me of me, I love the detailed stone walls and brickwork I find here in Central Italy. I like the contrast between the black and white and colour versions of the same image.
I have maybe over 200 photos of brick walls in my files! They are quite interesting and diverse, and as you mentioned, they can be quite colorful! I enjoyed your particular selection. I usually don’t try to make them black and white but I think I’ll try.
They certainly are a part of history. All over the place and we often just ignore them. I remember when bricks in the UK were made locally and the differences between them in different towns was immense. Hard red bricks in one place, softer pastel shaded ones in others. Very interesting history!
Yes, walls offer infinite variety – some are my favorites are Byzantine/Middle Eastern ablaq walls – alternating layers of brick & stone.
Not that many years ago, I brick home was considered to be of a higher quality than a stick-built house. I remember in the early 90s when I was house hunting for a starter home, the brick ones had a higher price tag and were out of my budget. I guess that has stuck with me, because I still think even a partial facade of brick lends a touch of class.