I’m sorry, someone has likely taken this same picture…I can assure you the only person around when I took it today was an old man shuffling down the broken street to meet his equally old friends for a Pilsner at the local watering hole.
I’ve begun posting shots from my trip to LA, but I will back up a bit here. We took the Amtrak (that’s the passenger rail service here in the states, for those unfamiliar) out to the coast, a 48 hour trip from Chicago to Los Angeles’ Union Station. I took a few photos from the train, though I packed the wrong lens on my carry-on and was stuck with my wide angle the whole trip. Here’s what I managed to get.
A mountain in New Mexico
Each block of glass is its own little world living out microscopic dramas in the afternoon sunlight.
A shady physician awaits his next patient.
I spent a long time circling this car, trying to find the right balance of exposure time, ISO, and flashlight angle. Thus, I have a lot of similar shots, and it gets hard to choose the definitive one. The original shot of this car (to be found on this recent post) I’m no longer quite happy with. So, here’s a couple variations.
Like Orpheus of Greek myth, we descend into an underworld, impelled by our own dark longings and melancholy. Unlike the ancient hero, we have no lyre with which to soothe and pacify what we may find in Hell, and we know that our Eurydice will never come home with us. We hope only to capture what we see before the lights of the inferno dim and the gates slam closed behind us once again.
Early afternoon light fills the south end of this turn of the twentieth century building.
Indianapolis, former psychiatric facility.
October light sweeps through a derelict theater
Ticket booth for abandoned amusement park, northern Ohio.
The biggest challenge of photographing at the abandoned amusement park was the fact that it was so terribly overgrown it was hard to see anything for all greenery running rampant. Hiding in the goldenrod I found some cars from the Tumblebug ride.
It was a struggle to frame one of these properly, but I did what I could.
In the early 1970’s, the UK determined that the time between the detection of an incoming Soviet nuclear attack and its impact would be four minutes. The BBC was tasked with preparing a prerecorded warning to be broadcast at the onset of those four remaining minutes. The text of this message seemed a fitting preamble to the following scene from an abandoned Cleveland School:
“This is the Wartime Broadcasting Service. This country has been attacked with nuclear weapons. Communications have been severely disrupted, and the number of casualties and the extent of the damage are not yet known. We shall bring you further information as soon as possible. Meanwhile, stay tuned to this wavelength, stay calm and stay in your own house.
Remember there is nothing to be gained by trying to get away. By leaving your homes you could be exposing yourself to greater danger.
If you leave, you may find yourself without food, without water, without accommodation and without protection. Radioactive fall-out, which follows a nuclear explosion, is many times more dangerous if you are directly exposed to it in the open. Roofs and walls offer substantial protection. The safest place is indoors. Make sure gas and other fuel supplies are turned off and that all fires are extinguished. If mains water is available, this can be used for fire-fighting. You should also refill all your containers for drinking water after the fires have been put out, because the mains water supply may not be available for very long.
Water must not be used for flushing lavatories: until you are told that lavatories may be used again, other toilet arrangements must be made. Use your water only for essential drinking and cooking purposes. Water means life. Don’t waste it.
Make your food stocks last: ration your supply, because it may have to last for 14 days or more. If you have fresh food in the house, use this first to avoid wasting it: food in tins will keep.
If you live in an area where a fall-out warning has been given, stay in your fall-out room until you are told it is safe to come out. When the immediate danger has passed the sirens will sound a steady note. The “all clear” message will also be given on this wavelength. If you leave the fall-out room to go to the lavatory or replenish food or water supplies, do not remain outside the room for a minute longer than is necessary.
Do not, in any circumstances, go outside the house. Radioactive fall-out can kill. You cannot see it or feel it, but it is there. If you go outside, you will bring danger to your family and you may die. Stay in your fall-out room until you are told it is safe to come out or you hear the “all clear” on the sirens.
Here are the main points again: Stay in your own homes, and if you live in an area where a fall-out warning has been given stay in your fall-out room, until you are told it is safe to come out. The message that the immediate danger has passed will be given by the sirens and repeated on this wavelength. Make sure that the gas and all fuel supplies are turned off and that all fires are extinguished. Water must be rationed, and used only for essential drinking and cooking purposes. It must not be used for flushing lavatories. Ration your food supply–it may have to last for 14 days or more.
We shall be on the air every hour, on the hour. Stay tuned to this wavelength, but switch your radios off now to save your batteries. That is the end of this broadcast.”
A long-stilled ferris wheel still stands in an old amusement park somewhere in the wilds of Ohio.
The following is a bit of a rehashing and expansion on a subject already covered by the Idiot Photographer here. This is my turn to throw in my photographic two cents’ worth.
There is a ravine that runs through a part of southwest Cleveland which kept two racially disparate neighborhoods separated. The city built a 680 foot long suspension footbridge spanning the gorge in 1931. Amidst racial tensions in the 60’s, someone burned the wooden deck of the bridge, leaving it unusable. Ever since, it has been completely forgotten. Now, it is so overgrown it can’t easily be seen from the streets it once connected, and most Clevelanders have not heard of it.
There is a certain feeling one gets upon finding an object of which landscapers working mere yards away were wholly unaware. That feeling, for me, is the essence of urbex.
It is rare I get to visit someplace that is mostly untouched by vandals and taggers which makes finding something as simple as this a bit of a treat.
Bertrand Russell famously wrote an essay entitled “Why I Am Not a Christian“. Were I to offer a similar argument in the form of a photograph, the following could well be the result. For details on what the mural depicts, click here.
Pianos. They are everywhere we go. Too big and heavy to move, these instruments are usually left behind in schools, theaters, and, as is in this case, churches. They may be an enduring urbex trope, but one which I don’t see myself tiring of anytime soon. This from Cleveland last month.
From a shuttered amusement park in the middle of Ohio. Nature has reclaimed most of what there was to see, with rusted rails furtively peeking out of dense foliage before plunging again into the thicket.
From a defunct hospital in Kentucky.
I waited for the lift for some time, but finally decided to take the stairs. Damn elevator operators must be on strike again. Thanks, Obama.
A reminder that the fastest way between two points is not always the most desirable.
I wish the experience of photographing abandoned, decrepit and overgrown schools would in some way redeem the experience of having attended them. It doesn’t. But bitterness towards one’s youth is bitterness wasted, and photographing old school buildings is awesome.
That’s as fine a manifesto as any with which to bring you the following.
My entry in the ongoing plant-off that the Idiot Photographer and I are engaged in, good naturedly, of course. We need JuniorBBQ and Moribund to come in with some prairies and pianos soon lest this blog become the botanist’s illustrated guide to armageddon.