Benny Chan’s photograph gives it’s viewer a critical look at the dream of growth in California, something our society has long “measured its success by” (Rawls 145). People have long migrated out west in mass to follow their own version of the California dream and with this influx of people the state scrambled to provide housing and amenities for all of its residents. Growth had long been perceived as “the greatest good” and when California became the most populous state in 1962 the wide open spaces everyone had applauded and valued quickly disappeared (Rawls 147). The fantasy of wide open spaces is in direct contrast to the grid lock and traffic found throughout many developing cities. Instead of rolling hills and vast valleys, freeways and roads dominate the landscape. This photograph giving us a rarely seen perspective from above of seemingly never-ending turns and interconnected loops looks as though it never ends. Its obvious that these freeways built to make life easier now stand as daily reminders of overcrowding. As author Rawls described these “urban freeways built as pathways for auto mobility were becoming monuments to immobility” that covered once open land (Rawls 147). As populations boomed, open spaces rapidly disappeared leaving behind the dream of a successful city, replacing it with the reality of over population.
Chan, Benny “Traffic!” Photograph. 2009
Rawls, James J. “California: A Place, A People, A Dream.” California: A Place, A People, A Dream. Eds. Claudia K. Jurmain and James J. Rawls. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1986. Print. 141-149.