This is the true story of when I photographed 20 different shopping carts abandoned on the same dirt road in Old East Dallas over a period of 3 years.
In 2014 I moved into an old house in Old East Dallas that had been converted into 8 small apartments. Rent was cheap and it was very close to downtown, Uptown, and Deep Ellum, I loved the location and price.
We had a gated parking lot behind the house. To access it you had to drive down a dirt road along the left side of the house. This dirt road went through the whole block. One day when exiting the parking lot, I noticed an abandoned shopping cart in the dirt road. I thought it was pretty interesting, so I snapped a photo of it with my iPhone.
More Started Appearing
Sometime later, weeks or months, I noticed another abandoned shopping cart on the dirt road in my way. Again I took a photo. The next time I saw one, it was to the side of the road, nearly in the bushes. I took a photo of it. I realized it must have been moved over by one of my neighbors trying to leave before me. By the fourth shopping cart, I finally noticed a trend of abandoned shopping carts being left on that dirt road.
I began posting these photos on Instagram and Facebook. People started noticing them and would ask me questions about the photos. Some people thought I set them up. I did not, never once. The only time I positioned the carts was to reposition some of them back to the middle of the road. Some thought someone knew I was taking photos of them so they left them there for me. No, my Instagram was not that popular, plus that doesn’t explain the first several before I started posting the photos.
Google Street View Captured One of Them
For the skeptical here is a Google street view of the house with an abandoned shopping cart on the dirt road by the house. So crazy that even Google caught this:
I never did see or meet who was doing that. My theory of how they ended up there is due to the gentrification of Old East Dallas and its changing landscape. Peak Street, the street I lived on, was the line between low income and middle-class income. Right behind the house were several very low-income apartments. For the record, I never had a problem with anyone in that neighborhood. No one broke into my car or my apartment, I always felt safe there. I think someone, or multiple people, would go shopping and push a cart from the store up to that road. My guess is that they didn’t want to push the cart down the dirt road so they would take their stuff out of the cart and walk the rest of the way. That’s my theory but really I have no idea.
Thee Years Later
I ended up living in that house for about 3 years. In those three years, I took 20 photos of shopping carts left on that dirt road. Those shopping carts made me curious about a lot of things. Especially about misused cultural artifacts, abandoned consumerism, poverty, and shopping carts themselves. Interestingly, the last time I saw and took a photo of them, the 20th photo, was of two shopping carts.
I call the series One Way Shopping Carts because of two reasons. Firstly, that they went one way and then were abandoned. Secondly, there is a One Way street sign visible in the background of every single photo.