5 July 2011

Photo Map of Belfast

You can currently find around Belfast a small square leaflet merging cartography and photography. Exploring Belfast in Photographs encourages the visitor or resident to find their way around with an eye on history, via oldish and historic photos in the leaflet. The map features only a limited number of sites, it has the feel of a pilot publication. Personally, I’d like to see it expanded because it is a good idea. To both a visitor and a local it might add a layer to the actual topography they see on the street, adding some time-travel exploration to a walk through town.

Section of the map, click through for a closer look.

Photo corresponding to number 2.

The above photo was taken by Bill Kirk in the early 80s. It is of a security gate that used to be at the bottom of Royal Avenue, designed to prevent bombs from being placed in the city centre. Looking at the filtering signs above it appears this gate was only for women, could that really have been the case? Perhaps men used the opposite pavement.

The prospect of being searched every time you went to the city centre must have helped keep many people in their outer neighbourhoods. Such a grim feature would deaden any city centre and Belfast’s has not recovered yet. However, being subjected to such mechanisms may not feel as remote to us as it may have recently. The text points out that “with the increasing security at airports over the last decade, it is easier to imagine the adjustments required to live a normal life under the extraordinary conditions necessitated by terrorism.”