What’s it like to move into the so-called hottest real-estate market in the country? In this essay, we look at life in a Northern California city as it grapples with extremes of wealth and poverty.
VALLEJO, CALIFORNIA, WAS NOT Magnum photographer Carolyn Drake’s first choice when she and her partner were contemplating a move from Athens, Georgia. But for the past year and a half, Drake has been documenting life in her new home, a place on the verge of profound change.
Less than a decade ago, the once-industrial North Bay city filed for bankruptcy. Now, in mid-2017, as the tech industry has spread its tentacles across the Bay Area, Vallejo is consistentlybilled as “the hottest real-estate market in the country” by numerous media outlets. It’s an uneasy mix of boarded-up storefronts and glossy renovations, a place whose contradictions speak to national trends of urbanization and gentrification. For a photographer just getting to know a new neighborhood, there’s a lot to see.
Each issue of Topic begins with a Cold Open, a video introducing that month’s theme. For July, we present the beautiful, powerful “Mouseland.” The two-and-a-half minute film, shot by director Fantavious Fritz between Detroit and New Orleans a few weeks before the 2016 election, is set to audio of the allegory “Mouseland,” recorded in 1960.