Meet the Archeologist :: A Few Words with Orange native, Christopher King

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Original Art Work by Vladimir Jean 

Reverse Archeology, I-280 in Orange, New Jersey

Usually, archeologists dig into the ground to uncover the stories of the past. In Orange, we already have a hole in the ground where the highway runs through town. A lot has changed about Orange since the 1960’s when Interstate 280 divided the city in half. To build the interstate, hundreds of homes, shops, community spaces where torn down, and many people left Orange for other towns. Our team is doing ”Reverse Archaeology” of I-280 to discover stories of Orange. What was Orange like before the highway? What drew current residents in Orange after many people left? What do people need to stay in Orange? Together with residents of Orange we want to look past the divided city and understand the Orange as a whole – past, present and future.

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Meet the Archeologists :: A Few Words with Orange native Christopher King

I am Christopher King and I am a Reverse Archaeologist. I have been involved in Unearthing the Future: The Art of Reverse Archaeology – Interstate 280 in Orange since October 1st of 2015 and since then I have learned so much about my hometown.

What surprises me the most is the fact that Interstate 280 is a relatively new structure that has had a tremendous impact on Orange and the surrounding region. My job is to figure out what life was like in Orange before the roadway and during its construction. Like conventional archaeologists I am searching for clues from the past to discover how people lived.

The artifacts I uncover are stories, photos, and the emotions of the people I interview who can recall life before the highway and during its construction. It is the responsibility of the reverse archaeology team to archive and showcase our findings to the community in order to start a conversation about how do we replace what was lost and what will people need today to stay and raise a family.

So far what concerns the people I’ve interviewed the most was the destruction of two “colored” youth centers that were once in that path of the interstate. These youth centers served as an important part of growing up, being productive, learning common values and having a safe place to socialize.

Through reverse archaeology in Orange we all can expect to learn about how the community functioned before being split in two, what kinds of aspects and practices of community did we loose and how can we apply those lost practices in today’s society to fill this physical and social void. By uncovering and celebrating influential people and places from Orange we can expect to develop a new appreciation for the place we call home. This new appreciation has potential to influence, social engagement, civic engagement and participation in planning for our future in Orange, New Jersey.

Read more about the Reverse Archeology, I-280 project http://www.280inorange.org and on Facebook

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