This is a very American view--the charm of it is in the ugliness and craziness of the architecture of different periods there together. Look at the quite handsome, charming building down front. While to the left, is a ridiculous house with a crenellated castle on it. The first is honest, the second is not honest; both are American.
Walker Evans declared that he was not interested in "educated architecture," but in vernacular styles such as those seen in this image of an industrial town. Using moral terms to compare the commercial building of the Pennsylvania Railroad in the foreground with the domestic architecture of a house in the background, Evans found the latter to be lacking in authenticity.
Although architecture may have been Evans's primary interest, his inclusion of the railroad in the left-hand corner of the image added a dynamic as well as a documentary aspect to the composition. Since colonial times, New Jersey had been an important link for importing and exporting goods to New York and Pennsylvania, and Phillipsburg, N.J. was one of the earliest stops on the railroad.