Vacant New Jersey

Newark Street Jail

Status: Region: Type: Gallery:
Abandoned New Jersey Prison 38 Photos

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The sounds of power tools grinding against the age old iron prison bars echoed through the vacant cell blocks. Clanking and ringing from sledge hammers smashing against the freshly cut metal, pierced through the stagnant mid-summer air. Judging from the noise it was quite clear we had company. Cautiously we entered into the bowels of the prison, the sounds of profit growing increasingly louder with each step forward. Our presence at first seemed to startle the group of ragged inner city scrappers. However our arsenal of photography equipment quickly gave away that we were not here to disrupt any scrapping activity as a result any apprehension was quickly subdued.

While setting up my camera to capture a most certainly cliche photograph, a middle aged man adorned in tattered clothing, sporting a scruffy beard dusty with cigarette ashes and stained with the hardened saliva leaking from his toothless trench of a mouth, crawled out from a dark fissure in a brick wall. Walking past he stopped at first sight of me. Standing in a slouched posture that seemed to mimic the warped steel inside the jail the man turned and exclaimed "Hey you be documenting' here?". I simply responded "yes". He seemed quite enticed by my answer responding in a gargled alcohol induced dialect something along the lines of "That's awesome, I run across a lot of kids that be trying' to save the histories inside of here." No quicker did the conversation end as the man continued on walking into the shadows of the crumbling prison.

My quick chat with the man made me realize that we were no longer exploring an abandoned jail, but rather a lively house; a refuge for the homeless, invisible to the bustling city which surrounds it. The cells which once housed inmates convicted of abhorrent crimes now served as personal McMansions for the displaced peoples of Newark. Walking around the upper tiers of the cells blocks, various makeshift plywood cots and beds had been constructed. Adorned with disgusting worn out blankets and torn cloth for padding, this appeared to be the Beverly Hills for the homeless. We must have chosen a good time to poke around as no one appeared to be home, however we decided to cut our visit short as we did not want to over stay our welcome.