For the location of specific photographs, click SHOW CAPTIONS at the bottom of the main menu on the left.

These images of the city of Hartford, Connecticut, by photographer Pablo Delano, are part of a work-in-progress launched in 2008. They depict the built environment of the city – housing, public and private buildings, and decorative shop-fronts – suggesting the lives of the people who now inhabit it. The images evoke the 19th and 20th century history of the city, and the memory of those who resided there before the present-day inhabitants. Hartford is one of the country's poorest cities in this 21st century; it has witnessed both wealth and poverty from its earliest founding. Yet the vibrancy of the built forms, their colors and their revised façades, often triumph over desolation or pessimism, seizing back the structures and transforming them. Abandoned lots and dereliction bespeak loneliness and failure, but the populated spaces speak of human endeavor, ingenuity, confrontations with adversity, and the playfulness of life lived in the moment – smiles, not just urban tears and dread. These images are testaments to human resourcefulness. They propose that Hartford foretells the nation's future as much as it represents her deepest historical past. The watchful camera looks to that future – mindful of what came before, but without resignation or nostalgia. Tomorrow looms for those who inhabit the buildings and the streets around them, and like their forbears, many have come a long way to find it.

Susan Dabney Pennybacker
Chalmers W. Poston Distinguished Professor of European History
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill