Update: Sunday March 20, 2016
New Jersey Turnpike, Exit 8, a rusty water tower topped with the initials "NL" rises out from the farmland just off the shoulder of the northbound lanes. Thousands drive by everyday, but only the curious stop to see why. A short walk through the adjacent woods buffering the sounds from the highway proves this sight to be the former location of National Lead Industries paint laboratory. Constructed during the early 1960's, this laboratory was built primarily as a facility to conduct scientific research on the application of lead paint within various products. The early 60's was a time before the dangers associated of lead paint were widely recognized, thus lead was being used in all sorts of products from standard wall paint to toys for infants and toddlers to chew on. However during the 1970's the ill-effects of lead paint became a major political issue and thus lead containing products became nearly completely outlawed and strictly regulated by the government. Ultimately this lead (heh) to the downsize and eventual closure of many lead based chemical companies across the country. Today the laboratory remains as a complete ruin. Overtaken by nature, vines and ivy hold the decaying walls together as ceiling tiles and light fixtures dangle from the collapsing beams. Yet still the epic water tower looms tall over the New Jersey Turnpike, a forbidding icon of a now known neurotoxin. And while the NL logo has since faded, it has now been topped with the new initials from a daring NJ tagging icon.
Update: Sunday January 10, 2016
Originally constructed in 1890 as a luxury hotel called Halcyon Hall, the wooden building consisted of nearly 200 rooms featuring a lavish interior design which matched the Queen Anne style architecture ever so present of the grand edifice of the building. But perhaps due to Halcyon Hall's remote location, its original intent as a hotel never caught on and the business closed in 1901 and the building remained vacant for the years to follow. It wasn't until 1907 that the building was purchased by Miss May Bennett, the founder of the prominent and expanding all women's college entitled Bennett School for Girls, which at the time existed in Irvington NY. It was in that year the Halcyon Hall became the new home for the Bennett School for Girls. The all girls college thrived right up to around 1970 at which point the idea of single-sex education became less and less popular. By 1977 the idea of coeducation had completely transformed the American education system, forcing the antiquated same-sex philosophy endorsed by the Bennett School for Girls to fail. Ultimately the all girls' school was forced to file for bankruptcy and ultimately closed its doors later that year. The school has essentially remained abandoned since the late 1970's as redevelopment attempts during 80's failed. Today the school still remains as an icon, although now just a beacon for illicit adventure, as its decaying facade and crumbling architecture attract the curious minded by the hundreds each year. At any given time people can be seen snapping pictures of the front of the school from the main road which passes by and well worn paths in the weeds hint toward how to sneak into the decaying symbol for adventure.
Blog Update: Sunday November 29, 2015
Doris Duke, an American heiress. Inheritor of money, born into privilege and next in line kin celebrity living off the profits of her deceased father's American Tobacco and Duke Energy Companies fortunes. The chance of being born directly into substantial inherited wealth should not be presented with any royal significance nor boasted about. Rather, the potential of that human to then make the world a better place for others with such fortune should be the deciding factor of their faux or fact celebrity status and ultimate legacy...
Update: Tuesday August 4, 2015
Originally established as the Chester County Poorhouse in 1898, the facility primarily focused on developing a working community of patients who were tasked and trained on various jobs such as farming, sewing, laundry, and building maintenance. As patient population expanded through out the early 1900's, the original hospital buildings were demolished, replaced instead with more modernized structures, the likes of which define the architecture representing the cottage style Embreevilre State Hospital campus which exists today. The modernized buildings consisted of large brick edifice structures, which housed patient rooms, dorms, wards, a recreation building complete with a theater, and even a small pool and gymnasium. Throughout much of the early 1970's, a juvenile detention center was even operated out of one of the hospital buildings, but was ultimately closed six years later to be moved to a more accommodating facility. Through out the late 1970's Pennsylvania state-wide patient population began to dwindle, ultimately forcing the official closure of Embreevilre State Hospital in 1980. Today the buildings remain in ruins. Smashed windows and blasted open doors allow anyone and anything to enter. The damp tunnels snaking below the campus serve as home to frogs and cave crickets, the buildings a playground for the curious and copper mine for the impoverished.
Gallery Update: Wednesday May 20, 2015
Five years had passed since my initial visit but upon glancing at the exterior of the massive brick building, the edifice looked unscathed, still clearly abandoned. I wondered if the same ruinous conditions held true for the interior of the main pump house structure; as I recall a few news articles published over years past made mention of grant money being utilized for some sort of restoration and stabilization efforts. But between me and finding out, the same barb wire topped fence still guarded the perimeter. Although I spotted a few more obvious cut holes this time, I opted for the same sneaky entrance which served me well in the past. A quick stroll through the long filtration building, followed by a swift run outside combined with a little bit of upper body ingenuity, I was able to gain access inside the pump house. As dust once again kicked up by panicked pigeons began to settle, golden rays of afternoon sunlight yet again cast down upon the titanic steam pump engine illuminating the massive space a familiar rusty-yellow glow. Sans a web of temporary yellow string lights dangling from beams above, the five-story steam pump appeared indistinguishable from its five year younger self, perhaps maybe just a tad bit rustier. Still no new coat of pain nor freshly oiled flywheels to be found. Just a few new candy wrappers and an empty box of Cheez-It crackers strewn across the dusty floor, the only obvious differences I could spot. Grant or not it seems the only thing that had changed over the five years, was me.
Blog Update: Thursday April 9, 2015
The State of New Jersey's decision to demolish the vacant kirkbride building on the grounds of the former Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital campus marks the end to an architectural marvel, but ultimately a choice the State has the right to make, regardless of one's opinion on the matter. The State owns the building thus they can decide what actions they wish to implement over their property. While such a reality is disturbing we citizens do have the right to at least express and exercise our own thoughts on the matter. And we have, but we've been largely ignored so far...
Blog Update: Wednesday March 18, 2015
The option remained to just sleep. If chosen there would be no bus to catch, nor trains to ride. Just closed eyes, complacent, safe, warm under the cover of blankets, dozing off in a fantasy dream world projected ever so realistically upon the backs of my eyelids by my luminescent pupils. But sleep is for the depressed! I'm beyond despondent, I'm wired, terrified, sick with fervor. I've already pissed three, four times against that stone wall obscured amongst the shadows of the night playing under the fluorescent white light cast by the moon. A urine puddle begins to form on the asphalt between my legs as I unzip to let out another stream of relief. Reflected within the warm puddle I notice the stars, no, The City lights...
Update: Sunday January 18, 2015
Formed and named after Martin E. Waldstein and Adolphus H. Maas, the Maas and Waldstein Company was officially established in 1876 on the bank of the Passaic River in Newark, New Jersey. However it wasn't until years later during the early 1900s that the ruinous buildings which remain today were constructed. The company existed as a manufacturing plant and produced primarily flavoring extracts for goods such as soda, oil, lacquers, paint, thinners, and explosives. The chemicals used within the manufacturing process of the lacquers were highly explosive and volatile. Over the span of the factories operating life up until its closure in 1990, numerous violent explosions and fires rattled the plant and took the lives of employees over the years. One of the largest fires which occurred in 1919 spread to the adjacent Erie Railroad Trestle spanning the Passaic River. This drew the response of fireboats from Newark. The trestle stills spans The Passaic, but the entire rail line and bridge has been abandoned and closed to train traffic for decades. Today the former Maas and Waldstein Company exists as a fragile shell of twisted metal, crumbling brick, and shuttered skeletal buildings overgrown with dense vegetation, splattered with graffiti. Just another one of New Jersey's alluring superfund sites.