Among my varied and bizarre fascinations (Scientology, the Amityville Horror, dolphin sexual assault), abandoned architecture rates to be the most breathtaking. Abandoned monuments, train stations, amusement parks – there’s something about the macabre mix of eery and beautiful that really floats my boat.
Strangely enough, my interest was sparked by a book on Berkshire “cottages” of the Gilded Age that I found in the den of our rented ski house in Lenox, MA.
“Cottages” of that era (1880’s-1900’s) were actually the opposite; mansions in the truest sense of the word, they were commissioned by famous architects like Mckim, Meade & White and featured sumptuous marble interiors and vast wings with endless bedrooms. The most interesting part of the book is the last chapter, which chronicles the fate of these palatial homes. Time, expense, fire and neglect has transformed many of the cottages into unrecognizable shells. The idea of a building once so glorious in a golden heyday of some vague “past” (past always seeming more golden under the harsh light of present), now turned sad and derelict always gives me goosebumps.
Below, a gallery of curios illustrating the empty, the forsaken, the vacant and deserted:
Like Detroit and car manufacturing, Gary IN and its steel industry fell victim to cheap manufacturing and foreign import in the 2nd half of the 20th century, leaving the once booming city in ruinous neglect.
From Gary Indiana | A City’s Ruins, by David Tribby
Bannerman’s Castle, Hudson Highlands State Park, NY
The closer to home, the stronger the fascination. This one is about an hour away from the Bestchester. The structure was a built as a residence and storage house by ammunitions dealer Francis Bannerman to emulate a Scottish castle.
Buzludzha Monument, Bulgaria
I have Larry to thank for this one. Bulzludzha was built in the 70’s as an ideological monument to Communism. Photographer Timothy Allen endured hellish conditions to get these shots in the dead of winter. SO. DAMN. COOL.
Go to Timothy Allen’s site for more pictures. Trust me, you want to see these: http://humanplanet.com/timothyallen/
Renwick Ruins, Roosevelt Island
Only in NYC would city officials take an abandoned smallpox hospital and spotlight the facade in green to increase the “creep” factor. A view of Renwick at night is the only reason to brave the treacherous drag race that is the FDR drive.