Although the primary mission of The Loading Area is to celebrate and venerate loading docks, there has been a fair bit of lamentation over the past year and a half. As much as I feel tempted to paint an idealized picture in which docks are never neglected, abused or destroyed, the world just doesn't work that way. Were I to gloss over the ugliness and bleakness within the dock saga, my deceit would be a grave disservice to my readers, myself and, most importantly, to loading docks themselves. But what good does it do to languish in the melancholy morass? If one assumes the positive tip, an examination of what happens to a loading dock in its afterlife can be a stimulating intellectual exercise.
Loading docks realigned as windows for an aptly named retail establishment at 8th and Fulton. The bolted-timber look harkens back to a day before standardized seals, levelers and other contemporary safety features
Walk a few blocks south and you'll find this an almost-mirror image. Refurbishing antiquated warehouses and replacing their loading docks with 16-panel floor-to-ceiling windows appears to be the modus operandi for Boise's 8th Street Cultural District.
Erstwhile loading docks/current windows on Westpark Street. Are we beginning to notice a pattern here? Is it as if the plane where goods (and ideas, perhaps) once moved freely in and out is now but a double-paned barrier where all one can do is gaze longingly through at what cannot be grasped? I ruminate on such matters at length.
Before and after:
An esteemed, if a bit unloved, row of docks at the confluence of Westpark and Steelhead Way. Image dated May 2012.
Same docks, different angle, shot in either January or February 2013. Haphazard wall cladding and slit-like vinyl-trimmed windows are the game west of Cole Road. (Please excuse the unpleasant glare, although it seems eerily fitting).