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Monday, August 29, 2011

Aaron Astor: Hotel Switzerland from Jim Thorpe, PA

The photo was taken by Aaron Astor who uploaded it on Facebook.

I enjoyed the photo enormously. It was capturing a universe that was very Americana. The narrow building with an unexpected name (Switzerland Hotel, no more, no less), the post placed on the street with another name that was unexpected (Carbon County), the special light, suggesting a rainy day, or more a windy day, the people who were absent, while their presence was somehow suggested by the whole setting of buildings, and cars, and posts: it was a world of busy people, so busy with their small businesses and small or bigger industries that they could not afford the luxury to be visible.

Well, if you look at the post in the photo, it says that the town is Jim Thorpe in Pennsylvania (it had been named Mauch Chunk and became Jim Thorpe in 1954, to honor the memory of a Native American athlete), also it explains the reason the region is named Carbon County (the rich deposits of anthracite).

I asked Aaron to allow me to publish this photo here on the blog. He kindly agreed and gave me some information about the place:

It was one of the most important towns in the American industrial revolution in the mid-19th century. It used to be called Mauch Chunk (Lenape for... sleeping bear because of the shape of the nearby mountain) and was a critical railroad town connecting the anthracite coal region to the west with the Lehigh Valley and the city of Philadelphia to the South. It also connected, by rail, to New Jersey and on to New York City. Anthracite is an unusually hard grain of coal and is only found in this section of Pennsylvania. It is also one of many places to call itself the Switzerland of America.

(By the way, from an article of Aaron Astor published in NY Times I learned about another Switzerland of America: East Tennessee)

(America viewed by Americans)



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