The New California

In the 1950s, California grew as never before. The economy exploded, and suburbs appeared across the state, connected by sprawling freeways. Not everybody benefited. Unrestrained development threatened the natural environment, spurring the decline of city neighborhoods where mostly the poor and people of color lived. Lange responded with projects such as Death of a Valley, which documented the removal of an entire community to build a reservoir to provide water to the growing population of Northern California. Instead of seeing progress, Lange's empathetic eye captured changing urban life and the ugly side of suburbia.

There are many, many people on the streets today who are ‘walking wounded.’ I see the ‘walking wounded’ in myself and in my friends. [It is] a recurrent theme in my pictures. — Dorothea Lange