Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I've never been, but I often fantasize about walking through the decrepit ruins of the casbah and smelling the walls and imagining that through osmosis, I have absorbed the conquests and defeats of Algiers, this great port city of Antiquity. 


The Casbah, Algiers, 2006 via NY Times

The Casbah, Algiers, 2006 via NY Times

When I think of Algiers, I think of all the minds that it has shaped through its tormented colonial history, directly and indirectly - Franz Fanon, Le Corbusier, Albert Camus, Jean Paul Sartre, Pontecorvo to name a few. 

Le Corbusier's vision of Algiers, Courtesy of Bidoun

Aside for Sartre, these men all found their way to the Casbah, and the Casbah changed them, for better or for worse. And now that it is in ruins, structurally unstable, crumbling bit by bit - the historical and pictorial records of old world Algiers and the infamous folds of the Casbah become all the more important.  

It will inevitably become too unsafe for its centuries old inhabitants; it will empty, and its Unesco Heritage Site classification will ensure it does not disappear into the abyss but its magic will be lost. And, after 11 years of civil war and rule under an authoritarian government, Algiers has changed, and will continue to change, so by the time you and I get there, we won't even recognize what we've missed. Here is my attempt to know the Casbah, and to know Algiers in 1945.


The Casbah, Algiers, 1945
The Casbah, Algiers, 1945
Algiers, 1945
Algiers, 1945
L'avenue d'Algiers, 1945
Lycee, Algiers, 1945

Photos of 1945 Algiers via THROUGHTHEIREYES

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