Bones at the End of River Street: A graphic ethnography of a bridge in Lansing, Michigan

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


There are bones of a bridge in Lansing exposed on the muddy banks of the Grand. In this cityscape, a “Sortatropolis”, a once urban space now emaciated and exhausted. There would have been nothing special about this bridge to make its 1987 demolition, its absence, a remarkable tragedy, except that its disappearance can be directly connected to the long exhale of this once thriving capital. The Sortatropolis is haunted by the ghosts of auto industry moguls, lumber barons, and boot-strapping millionaires, and in the mix of dirt and time, the stories of those that escape history’s telling outnumber those presented; the same ghosts labored for the sake of those who are privileged to make their own destinies. There are politics to and in forgetting. This paper will be a graphic presentation of the story of this bridge: the River Street bridge in this Rust Belt city of Lansing, Michigan reveals the interests embedded with racism, misogyny, class politics, and the State, along with concrete and steel that used to span the Grand River and connect the city to itself. The bones mark the consequence of change, the making of “progress,” and an unleashing of capitalism on the Sortatropolis.
Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - Apr 12 2018
EventSociety for American Archeology - Washington, D.C.
Duration: Apr 12 2018Apr 12 2018


ConferenceSociety for American Archeology


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