There was a time when finding solitude in Manhattan was a difficult thing to achieve. With more cities evolving into "9 to 5" lifestyles and gentrification killing off "OPEN ALL NIGHT" businesses, finding silence and loneliness is no longer that difficult.
Taken over two Winters on several Monday nights, I'd leave Philadelphia by train and enter New York, a city of over 8 million, to seek out that solitude. I spent many hours wandering the dark streets and alleys, eating in diners, and standing in doorways, in hopes of finding it.
Lonely New York Zine resides at MoMA in library/holding.
Tune In Philadelphia: A collection of 75 rooftop antenna images.
75 rooftop antenna images arranged into a series of three typologies, "Tune In Philadelphia" is a collection of photographs taken by Michael Penn in 2008.
Recognizing the obsoleteness of analog signal receivers, Penn became fascinated by the thought that these twisted metal sculptures will eventually serve no purpose but will remain in place, simply because of laziness.
Future generations will never experience static, interference, or "snow", for when the signal is lost in the new digital age- it just goes off. At most, a 'pixeled' glitch of residual imagery is left smeared on the screen until the signal returns.
Gone are the days of VHF, UHF, and watching reruns through what looks like a dust storm.
On the Philadelphia banks of the Delaware River sits a former anthracite coal loading pier that was once part of The Reading Railroad's sprawling Port Richmond Yards.
Graffiti Pier as it is now known, was decommissioned and abandoned by Conrail in 1991 and is now an industrial Stonehenge that serves as an unsanctioned open-air gallery of art produced by street artists, graffiti geniuses, and mere wall taggers.
Hidden down a dirt path and covered by overgrown brush, Graffiti Pier has seen an increase of visitors and participants, thanks in part to, Instagram and the use of geotags.
The pier offers one of the best views of the Philadelphia Skyline and sits on the other side of Interstate 95 from the recently gentrified Fishtown and Port Richmond neighborhoods.
This collection of photos were taken between 2014 and 2016.
The Final Days Of Little Pete's: Photos of a Beloved American-Style Philadelphia Diner
The Final Days of Little Pete's: This project documents the end of a way of life for a city whose blue collar population is marginalized by a lack of work, and the suburban migration as the the demographics of Philadelphia are inverted. The blue collar are pushed to the outskirts, and the rich, formerly suburban dwellers, move back into Center City.
In September of 2014, the rumors began. The site was going to be developed. Already six months into the project, it became even more vital as Penn witnessed a number of other independently-owned, affordable, and popular eateries be replaced by high-end dining or razed completely for a chain store or overpriced living. Little Pete's time was coming. By October 2015, Philadelphia's City Council voted in favor of the zoning change allowing for development on the site of Little Pete's.
Suddenly, the timing became more critical. As Little Pete's became the subject of news articles, Instagram posts, tweets, food reviews, and blog stories, everyone seemed to have their own spin on the impending changes, and shared the same sense of urgency.
Like so many trending topics before it, #SAVELITTLEPETES hit its crescendo in January of 2016, when the plans were released for a high-end boutique hotel and the unofficial countdown began.
A few of my iconic Little Pete's photos have been borrowed by a number of news outlets to accompany announcements, stories, and developments regarding the closing, as they break.
For the staff and loyal clientele of Little Pete's, life has gone on and will continue. But, it will look a lot different once Little Pete's is gone, taking with it the last affordable diner meal in the area. For the aging residents, students, and blue collar workers of Philadelphia, meals at Little Pete's served as important interaction with humanity.
In 2014, Michael Penn set out to photograph the area of Center City Philadelphia known as Market East, home to the Reading Terminal, The Gallery, a sprawling urban mall, the original Strawbridge & Clothier, John Wanamaker's, Lit Brothers, and Gimbel's department stores.
Market East spanned from Philadelphia's City Hall to Independence Mall at 6th street.
Gentrification plans included demolition and renovations to the seven block corridor. The area was swiftly re-branded as "Jefferson Station," once the barricades went up and heavy machinery moved in.
Penn's intention for "Welcome To Market East," was to document urban decay, homelessness, the drug addicted, and troubled inhabitants that called the sidewalks, alleys, and entryways of Market East "home" since the area began it's decline in the early 1990's.
The Philadelphia Project Book Series- a glossy softback “zine” formatted book. Each book contains 25 full bleed images from The Philadelphia Project portfolio. 8.5″ x 11″ with an average of 40 gloss pages. Taken in and around Philadelphia Metro between 2010 and 2013.
SERIES SOLD OUT
The MONTH DAY YEAR Book Series- a glossy softback “zine” formatted book. Each book contains 25 full bleed images measuring 5.5″ x 8.5″ with an average of 40 gloss pages. Taken in and around Philadelphia and New York Metro.
SERIES SOLD OUT
OUT OF NEW YORK
OUT OF NEW YORK- a glossy softback “zine” formatted book. Each book contains images Taken in New York CITY SPECIFICALLY FOR THIS PUBLICATION. 8.5″ x 11″
SERIES SOLD OUT
DEVIL'S POOL VOL. 1
Devil’s Pool zine featuring 29 full bleed black and white photos taken in 2021 & 2022. This is the first of 3 zines.