For German-born photographer Ben Marcin, the plucky row houses left standing in cities on America’s Eastern Seaboard—so-called “nail houses” that are the leavings of gentrification, unrealized developments, and stubborn homeowners—are the kind of domestic oddity that his shutter snapping. Why? “Many details that might not be noticed in a homogenous row of twenty attached row houses become apparent when everything else has been torn down. And then there’s the lingering question of why a single row house was allowed to remain upright. Still retaining traces of its former glory, the last house standing is often still occupied.” The shot above is in Baltimore, but others in his Last House Standing series sit in Philadelphia and Camden, N.J.
If I had to guess at what these photos are about, they are meant to invoke communities that have been lost. This is similar to all the photos coming out of Detroit in the past few years; the buildings themselves aren’t the focus but rather the sad state in which the current buildings are in.
I’m trying to picture what form a similar picture might take for a suburban subdivision. Simply showing one house all lonely at the end of an otherwise empty cul-de-sac might work. But, the beauty of the row house photos is that all these houses together formed a single unit whereas single-family homes already stand alone. Perhaps a middle unit suburban townhouse might do?