Portraits by Other Means

Get Me Out of Here

Get Me Out of Here
Credit: Sandy Austin

Once in a while I think about giving up city life for the great unknown. Somewhere people don’t spit on the subway platform, or where you can get respite from the internet beyond the subway platform. Basically, any place where you don’t spend so much time thinking about the subway platform. Here are some choices for me—and you, if you’re interested.

Centennial, Wyo.

...I liked Centennial, with its funky main drag, its ancient police car parked near the highway to deter speeders and, when I first arrived, its five bars to serve a population of fewer than 100 people.

Darwin, Calif.

In Darwin, there is no food, gas or lodging—or any businesses, for that matter. There is one stop sign. People emerge from their mobile homes and reclaimed miner’s shacks shortly after 11:30 each morning and walk to the post office to greet the mail's arrival.

A sign at the edge of town announces Darwin’s population as “50 or so.” It’s actually about three dozen, and they are outnumbered 3 to 1 by abandoned cars. There are retirees, artists, loners, eccentrics—independent souls who’ve accepted that the price of living in California’s tranquil outback is a 90-mile drive to the nearest shopping center.

Fiordland, New Zealand

On the southern end of New Zealand’s west coast, the Fiordland region is wild, rugged—and empty of human development. With high mountains falling into jagged rocky waters, Fiordland has never had any significant permanent population. Even the native Maori only visited temporarily for hunting, fishing and to collect the precious New Zealand jadestone.

Jerome, Ariz.

A mining town that was established in 1889 and sits on a hill, Jerome was known as a hotbed of prostitution, gambling and vice, prompting the New York Sun to declare the town “the wickedest town in the West” in 1903. Jerome, Arizona isn’t exactly a ghost town: 353 people still live there, many of whom are either artists or operate bed and breakfasts, restaurants, bars and other tourist sites.

Tenney, Minn.

The town did not match the pleasant picture that I had created in my mind. It consists of a large grain elevator next to the highway and a few dilapidated old buildings along with a few run down houses and trailers. There is one dirt road that runs through the town like a horseshoe. You can walk a circle around the town in about 10 minutes. There is nothing pretty about it. Everything appears desolate. But having seen it now, I like it even more and I can't wait to go back when I can spend some more time there.


TMN Editor Leah Finnegan is from Illinois by way of Texas. She splits her time between New York City and her website. More by Leah Finnegan