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Union Gulf: 1947-2017

Cindy Weisbart | Massachusetts, United States

Union Gulf: Open/Closed

“Union Gulf 1947-2017” is a photography series that documents a loss, resulting from the pressures of gentrification in a formerly successful, working-class city. The project is focused on the sale of a second-generation, family-owned automobile service station to a real estate developer in Somerville, Massachusetts.

“Union Gulf, 1947-2017”

Cindy Weisbart

Somerville, Mass. USA

The two guys who have kept my car running for the past eleven years are brothers. Through December 2017, they owned Union Gulf Service in Union Square, Somerville, next door to a 1930s New Deal Post Office on the National Historic Registry. They inherited the business from their father who opened the garage after World War II. Jim is a lawyer; Greg has a degree in economics. Jim opened early, Greg closed late. I could drop off my car at 6am and walk to work by 6:30.

The Davidian brothers, with their lifetime of know-how and training, repair, replace, advise, and have big hearts. When I heard that these guys were closing their shop, I was surprised and saddened. “Development” is happening in Union Square. The post office is now home to a robotics start up. The pawnshop has reopened as a French patisserie. “Luxury apartments” are going up over the old railroad tracks. My own parents were the third generation of a family business that closed in the 1980s, under pressure from the retail mall that came to town. The brothers’ decision became personal for me.

Determined to preserve this piece of local history and recognize the contributions of Jim and Greg, I visited the garage often this Fall. I listened to their stories from fifty-plus years of garage and community relationships, and recorded the physical beauty and complexity of the mechanic business. All the while, they de-accessioned tools, parts, scrap metal, a cash register, a safe, a classic Dodge Coronet, a snowplow and truck, and their leased Gulf signs.

Cindy Weisbart

cindyweisbart.photography@gmail.com

Somerville, Massachusetts

USA

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