Having lived Downtown before the money poured in, Richard Brian watched his neighborhood pack up and leave before he, too, headed to a less-polished area better suited to his taste. Before he did, he snapped a few photos, adding to his growing collection of the Valley under construction.
Brian began the project while photographing for a local business publication and continued it as part of his fascination with the speed of the changing landscape. Downtown was personal. As a renter at 8th and Bridger, then at the L’Octaine Urban Apartments, he bought his beer at the 7-Eleven, which is now Inspire, smoked cigars at Don Yeyo Cigar Factory, now Radio City Pizza, and cashed his checks at what is now Coterie. “Uncle Joe’s Pizza, I was eating there for 15 years,” he says. “All the places that were affordable flipped. Everybody talked about how great [the change] is, but nobody talked about the people being pushed out. It was just kind of sad.”
Brian’s before and after images of Fremont East show the bar district there today against the mom-and-pops, faded sign fonts and other elements of yesterday. “Looking at it, you realize how great they were,” he says of the buildings. “Those facades were covering other facades from back in the day. They were really interesting and rich and special to the area.”