Fading fast

More often than not, the photographs I find most meaningful and memorable are technically imperfect and artistically lacking. Like this one, taken at Tower 47 in Buffalo, N.Y., 41 years ago last evening. It's just after sunset on August 3, 1974, and a trio of former NYC F7As are hobbling past with an eastbound drag. The urban landscape is bleak. The trackage is disturbingly decrepit. With rusted side panels, the scars of a minor collision, and vestiges of its New York Central heritage only partially obscured by patches of black paint slathered over stripes and lettering, the condition of the lead unit on Extra 1750 East isn't much better. The light is fading fast, so too are the fortunes of Penn Central. The drama of a once-great institution struggling to survive is compelling, even if the image is not.

Penn Central Extra 1750 East, Tower 47, Buffalo, New York, August 3, 1974.