Faces, places in North Philadelphia

Story highlights

  • Photographer Daniel Traub's new book profiles a struggling area of North Philadelphia
  • Traub says he examined neighborhoods long troubled by destitution yet ripe with beauty and possibility
  • "I want to show the complexity of the place. ... It has a lot of hidden richness," Traub said

(CNN)Daniel Traub knew North Philadelphia in his youth, accompanying his artist mother from their home in the more affluent central Philly as she helped residents transform vacant lots with sculptures and murals.

After growing up and working 10 years on photos examining economic divides in China, he knew where he wanted to look next.
"North Philadelphia" is Traub's new 124-page portrait of the people and properties in a struggling area where more than 40% of residents in three local ZIP codes live below the poverty line. From crumbling buildings to abandoned lots long overgrown by nature, Traub says he examined neighborhoods long troubled by destitution yet ripe with beauty and possibility.
    "I want to show the complexity of the place. ... It has a lot of hidden richness that maybe has been overlooked," Traub said.
    Daniel Traub
    For example? Start with the ubiquitous churches, some recently converted from commercial buildings. Others, as he writes in the book's essay, were "built in more prosperous times, such as the Church of the Advocate, which played an important role in the Civil Rights era."