Images of urban America find a lasting home

WASHINGTON, US- The US Library of Congress has purchased the archives of a Chilean-born photographer who has documented the decay of great American cities for more than four decades.
More than 5,000 images by Camilo Jose Vergara will fill a gap in the library's prints and photography collection, which until now has been short of images of post-industrial urban America.

"I am delighted, thrilled and proud to have my life's work archived at the Library of Congress, a great American institution," Vergara said in a statement Wednesday from the library.
"I feel happy reciprocating the amazing generosity that the people of my adopted country, the birthplace of my children and grandchild, have shown toward me."
Widely recognized as a master of contemporary urban photography, Vergara since the 1970s has focused his cameras on what he has called "the urban fabric of America's poor inner cities" and how ruined neighborhoods can evolve.
Born in 1944 into a wealthy Chilean family that fell into poverty by the time he became a teenager, Vergara came in the late 1960s to the United States, where he studied sociology and took up the camera.
In 2013, he received the National Humanities Medal, the first photographer to be so honored, for his work in such cities as Chicago, Detroit, New York and Camden, New Jersey.
Some 400 of his photographs have been digitized for the Library of Congress's website. More appear on Vergara's own online home,

Thursday, January 8th 2015

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