7 Line L.I.C.
How do you create compelling stories from something as seemingly uninspired as old factory buildings, armed with nothing but street addresses?
This was my dilemma in the autumn of 2016. Over the previous few years, I had compiled a vast collection of photographs of industrial buildings along the 7 train in Queens, New York (in an area better known locally as Long Island City). Having photographed every building along this route (from inside, outside and often their restricted rooftops), I set out create a book filled with only the most compelling images. I set out to pair my photos with deep dive research into each building. What was made there? Who worked here? Who owned the buildings now, and what would they become? (Hint: nearly all of them were slated for demolition, making their documentation all the more important.)
I set up a thorough research plan, which included combing through tax records, building inspection records, newspapers, books and various real estate blogs. Using this rigerous research plan, I was able to find compelling stories connected to each of the 21 locations contained within the book. Examples include the widow whose husband died on the Titanic, only to later make a fortune selling lifeboats. The son of a wealthy oil tycoon who never faced trial for the apparent murder of his astranged wife. The old Elks Lodge that should have been landmarked, and the slumlords who had bought it. Researching this book brought to mind the words of the infamous criminal defense lawyer Errol ‘No Worries’ Murray: "All I need is a single thread to pull on – and I’ll pick the whole case apart”. The same can be said for research: find the interesting threads, and pull on them until you have compelling stories.
This to me, is what research, and good writing, is all about. Find that single thread, and before you know it you’ll have en entire 218 page books worth of findings.
7 Line L.I.C. is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/7-Line-LIC-Joseph-Anastasio/dp/1537797638