Places Journal – “As if they had always been there”

After the homesteads have been seized, the villages disassembled, the valleys drowned — after the reservoirs have all been built — what do the landscapes look like?

Photographs by Tim Davis. Text by Luc Sante.

November 2020

This is the fourth and final installment in our series on the reservoirs of upstate New York. Constructed to supply water to New York City, these feats of engineering exemplify the social compact that undergirds ambitious public infrastructures even as they intensify divisions between city and country, wealth and poverty.

Fishermen at bridge, upstate NY.
Downsville Covered Bridge. All photographs 2020.

It has been more than a century since the Ashokan Reservoir was put into service, and more than 30 years since completion of the Cannonsville Reservoir, the last in the series of water infrastructures on the Catskill and Delaware watersheds in upstate New York. All the reservoirs have by now merged into their landscapes, as if they had always been there. During the summer of 2020, Tim Davis spent weeks photographing those landscapes, from close up, far away, and all points in between. Accordingly, his view of them ranges across the spectrum, from their unwitting role as calendar images of Arcadian perfection to the cultural undergrowth, gnarly or serene, that surrounds them.

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Places Journal

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