Ninth Street, Durham


Daniel Kayello, '08
Digital Documentary Photography
Fall 2008

In an effort to capture transience, I based my project on the burgeoning community life that exists on Ninth St. It is a street that has come to be a major part of my life at Duke over the last four years. When I arrived in Durham I lived just under a miles walk from the street on Duke’s East Campus. As a result I would spend a significant portion of my time either on Ninth Street or in the Mill building apartments across. Now, in my senior year, I am living in the old textile Mill building, with Ninth St at my doorstep.
Deciding on coming to Duke, and spending four years in the South was easy. I had spent my entire life living in the city of London, miles away from the southern lifestyle Duke students and Durhamites enjoy in North Carolina. I would make the same decision again in a heartbeat. I’ve loved every passing moment at Duke, and it wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for Ninth St and the City of Durham.

One can survive their entire Duke career without having to move far from Ninth Street. It offers places to work, to meet for drink, a bookshop, restaurants and a multitude of other services and shops that exist to satisfy the community’s interests. With over a hundred years of history, it is hard to even call this place a street – even the Durham City Council refers to it as an area.

Ninth St businesses are exposed the toughest critics. For a place to make money, it needs to satisfy the needs of many. Duke students look for places suitable to work, meet for a drink, or grab a quick meal, while the people of Durham use the street for the same reasons as well as to buy gifts for children, drop off the dry cleaning, and take moments to relax outside the coffee shops and restaurants. Some shops have not been able to convince the locals, forcing them to go out of business. But they have been replaced by new places within months. As part of my project I wanted to show the new places that have arrived, including Chubby’s Tacos and Ultimate Comics, and their reception by the Ninth St community.

When I set out to take pictures on Ninth St, I didn’t know where to point my lens. Simply taking pictures of the street and the facades of the buildings would not have done justice to what this street has become. But it was my strong emotion that made me want to learn more about what the street means and offers to the local community. I found that the best way to tell the story would be through the people who live and work on Ninth St.

I thank those who I met and photographed for being patient with me as I worked, and hope that in returning to Duke as an alumni, I still find the same culture and lifestyle that exists on this street, today, in North West Durham.