31 January 2012

the visual impact of cellular sites in Philadelphia

Broad and Washington, looking east. South Philadelphia
Two photographs today, taken in the last few weeks. The first, above, is an AT&T cellular site that stands much taller than the surrounding neighborhood. While these towers rarely blend into the landscape, it is striking to see one in a residential area that sits this high above the buildings. For context, the row homes directly in front of the tower are two stories high.

The Schuylkill River looking west from Kelly Drive, Philadelphia.  
This second photo is a traditional Pennsylvania winter view, water, leafless trees, washed out, cold blue sky, a view that has not changed much for the last few hundred years, except for the cellular site on the left. The tall, narrow and pointy structure that sits above the treeline on the horizon is another element in the infrastructure that produces mobile communication, this one alongside the I-76 corridor heading north out of Philadelphia.

These two images offer examples of how the changes mobile connectivity brings to individual users are reflected in the landscape. Neither of these cellular sites have particularly large impact on Philadelphia's landscape, but they are one of the more visible elements of network equipment, broadcasting the ethereal radio signals that connect mobile phone calls, that bring up Internet-based information on the touchscreen of that iPhone.

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