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Industrial Eye: Photographs By Jet Lowe From The Historic American Engineering Record

July 2024
1min read

Preservation Press; 128 pages; $34.95.

Jet Lowe is the official photographer for the Historic American Engineering Record, the industrial-history offshoot of the Historic American Buildings Survey. Since 1978 he has photographed the machinery of America’s past—mines, smelter stacks, hydroelectric turbines, windmills, and even abandoned military bases. One hundred and nineteen of his most arresting shots—about one-quarter of them in color—are gathered here. At Lowe’s very impressive best—as when he depicts an 188Os Brooklyn elevated train later used in the Alaska goldfields, now rusting on the subarctic plain, or a Massachusetts cotton mill converted to waste recycling with a snowy, icebound creek running under its stone and brick walls—he shows the way rude technology becomes a part of the natural landscape. Like the Greek and Roman ruins of European tradition, Lowe’s irrigation pipes and bridge anchorages and corncribs and hoist houses are softened by time and seem to have grown into their surroundings. Even iron-and-steel interior scenes, of forging presses and air compressors and the gaping space of a zeppelin hangar, possess a warm strength that seems both romantic and true.

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