About Texts Map

Rochester Decarceration Research Initiative, University of Rochester #theonlythingIcanseeisthesky
In prison, a "kite" is a common term for a written note. It is often a request, such as for medical assistance; sometimes, it's a snitch or complaint about a staff member. Kites can be circulated inside the prison or use to make contact outside.
The Rochester Inner Loop traced over an image of clouds

A city in ruins

When in 1906, a 7.9-magnitude earthquake devastated San Francisco, George R. Lawrence wanted to capture the destruction. Lawrence was already known for his photographic innovations, including a 1400-pound camera that in 1900, was the largest camera in the world. However, a bad experience in a hot air balloon that same year had soured his opinion on that common mode of aerial photography. Instead, he rigged his camera to a train of kites he adapted from the advertising industry. From 2,000 feet up, the camera produced a single 17-by-48-inch negative. Lawrence sold the contact prints for $125 each and made approximately $15,000 (over $400,000 today).

Starting around 1912, airplanes were used for military reconnaissance. In World War II, these new aerial photographs supported new forms of aerial warfare, aiding the identification of targets from above. By the 1930s, the Department of Transportation and the Agricultural Adjustment Administration were conducting aerial photo fly-overs to plan roads and assess crop compliance.
A black and white photo of a building A group of people standing in front of a building

"Auburn Correctional Facility has been open at the same spot in Auburn, New York, since 1817...
Auburn was the first prison in the world to house inmates in individual cells."

"The Auburn System was based on complete silences, strictly enforced with the threat of the whip. Prisoners were forbidden to commnicate with each other in any way. Such a system, which violated most basic human nature, could not be maintained without extreme physical cruelty."

"On August 6, 1890, Auburn was the first prison in the world to execute an inmate in the electric chair."

-Eileen McHugh
Auburn Correctional Facility
pages 8-9
A postcard from Auburn Prison in the 1910s
"The seeming success of the Auburn System -- the shops were profitable and the prison was silent -- drew distinguished visitors from throughout the U.S. and Europe. Auburn Prison was visited by thousands of sight-seers. There were narrow passages in the rear of the shops through which visitors could watch the convicts. Until 1822, the price of admission for visitors was 12 1/2 cents, but it was doubled that year to 25 cents. The Board of Inspectors doubled the fee, not just for revenue, but to lessen the large numbers of visitors." [#]
10 Uses of Google Earth That Have Made Positive Impacts on the World

I met a woman, Maria, whose husband has been in prison for twenty-five years. She takes her children to visit sometimes, and they sit out in the yard. Sometimes squirrels and birds stop by, then leave.
When she talks on the phone with him, sometimes they'll both look up at the sky. Same moon, apart. Same sky, together.

She asked me if I've ever been inside a prison. I haven't.