"A curious subject," was how one viewer described these photographs. He’s right, of course, a tow yard is a curious subject—one that reveals the gritty underside of urban life. But that is a popular theme these days.
Why does "gritty" strike such a chord? Apparently, it serves as a metaphor for the pain and stress of everyday life. It's an expression of protest against the happy myths we all grew up with, peeling them back to expose the paradox of widespread poverty and despair next to pinnacles of great wealth and success.
In this case, the tow yard sits next door to a famous icon of American architecture, the Waltham Watch Factory, now repurposed into pricey loft apartments. The paradox struck me, painfully, as I went about taking photos of this historic complex, all the time aware of the tow yard just beyond the fence. (The Watch Factory photos are posted here.)