Wednesday, June 2, 2010

More shotgun shacks, Marys Alley, Vicksburg, Mississippi

Marys Alley is north of the Ford Subdivision and west of the railroad tracks that run approximately parallel to North Washington Street. As you can see in photographs 1 and 2 (taken on 6 April, 2008), this area has a problem: when the Mississippi river rises to slightly above flood stage, about 49 of 50 feet on the Vicksburg gauge, the terrain floods. Houses east of the railroad tracks are protected by the rail embankment, but the land drops off to the west, and there are no levees between this small residential area and the Yazoo River. At about the same time, the city has to close Chickasaw and Long Lake Roads and the Kings Point Ferry becomes inaccessible.

The houses here are decades old, possibly from the 1930s or 1940s. Who knows why this area was developed then; I assume the land was cheap and an occasional flood was considered an accepted risk. It is also possibly that the area did not flood as often, and subsequent levee construction changed water patterns.

Marys Alley (no apostrophe in the name) resembles a classic Southern "Court." Originally, houses probably lined both sides of the Alley, but now we only have the structures on the north side. Photograph 3 above is from January 31, 2010.

All the houses have spray-painted numbers on them, which means the city inspector has condemned them. I am not sure if they were purchased on a FEMA program to tear down structures in areas that chronically flood. The east-most house is no. 63, in poor condition.

The next house is no. 20, also badly neglected. These houses were built with post-and-beam foundations, which at least elevated them about 2 or 3 feet above the ground, but why could they not have been given 4 or 5 feet, considering this was flood-prone area?

No. 24, the next in the group, was a more substantial house but was also elevated only about 2 ft off the ground. At least they were not built on slabs, like many of the ghastly ranch-style houses of the 1960s and 1970s.

No. 30 was closer to the shape of a traditional shotgun shack, and was once a cheerful blue.

Finally, the last house still standing (as of January 2010) was no. 38. These houses were listed in the Vicksburg Post on the demolition list, so they will probably be crushed soon.

All images are from a Sony DSC-R1 digital camera (a superb APS-format unit), tripod-mounted.

For some black and white film pictures, please click here.

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