And the walls come tumbling down

20 01 2011

I may have mentioned once or twice or fourteen time before my fascination with ruins.

Well, check out the amazing series of photos displayed over at The Kingston Lounge of buildings of the now-abandoned Riverside Hospital on North Brother Island in the East River.

The site, which is dedicated to “guerrilla preservation and urban archaeology”, also contains shots of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Creedmore State Hospital, and others, contains both amazing shots and commentary on the history of these sites.

This is the “interior of the coal house, facing east”:

This is beautiful, peaceful even.

This next shot, however, disturbs me:

According to the commentary, the hospital was re-purposed a number of times, the last, as a drug-rehab facility and school; this is from the small auditorium.

Why does this image, out of the many, many displayed on the site, disturb me?

I think it’s the flip side of the fascination: ruins imply both absence and presence, remind us that something was there—that people were there—and now they’re gone. I’ve been in wilderness areas where it is tough to find any sign of human presence; I know I’m not the first person in these places, but it’s also clear that these forests and deserts exist quite outside of us, that they are immune to our existence.

But ruins, ruins are about us. We wouldn’t, couldn’t hang on, we had to abandon what we had claimed; the ruins, standing in rebuke, outlast us.

Okay, okay, they are signs of our mortality—why does this shot dismay?

Perhaps because, unlike those photos of the nurses quarters or examination rooms, this is clearly a place of gathering; its devastation calls out allll gone.

All. Gone.


Someone on WNYC recently referred to “ruin porn” (this in regard to a book on an abandoned Detroit factory), and I guess I’m guilty of that indulgence.

It moves me, to see what we leave behind.

And, in the end, it soothes me that all we leave behind will, someday, join us in the ground.


Gimme some loving!

20 01 2011

This was left on my comments to “Music Thief”:

The next time I learn a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I imply, I know it was my option to read, but I really thought youd have one thing attention-grabbing to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about one thing that you would fix should you werent too busy on the lookout for attention.

Love it!