Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Architecture of Abandonment

The Victorians found ruins romantic, and so fell in love with them, that for their country estates, when they didn't exist, they would simply build some.

Those Victorians would probably risk heart failure if they confronted our own contemporary kind of ruins, the subject of an intriguing website, Abandoned But Not Forgotten, which offers photographs of abandoned buildings and sites that are a long way from classical picturesque. For some reason, there's an abundance of abandoned psychiatric hospitals in the collection, including several pages on the closed Manteno facilities, from which the above photograph, taken at the location in Morgan, Illinois, was taken. Another, snake-pit styled evocation of the mental hospital experience can be seen below.

35 of the 50 United States are represented, along with a host of foreign locales, including this abandoned town in Sanjr Taiwan.
Truth be told most of the photographs are of commonplace decay - empty cabinets, rusted patch panels, broken windows, littered floors - but even these can take on an unsettling power, as in the shot of a room in the plush sounding Elysium apartment complex, completely empty except for a brown carpet, green mattress, and a busted pink umbrella. An encyclopedic array of building types is represented, from humble to grandiose: homes, strip malls, big box stores, hotels, office buildings, amusement parks, forts, a counterculture barn, Xanadu, Florida's "home of the future" a future, apparently, that didn't quite pan out, and old railroad stations -in the case of the photo below, the grand vault of the Buffalo Central Terminal.

Bewarned, the web site runs a little funky and is likely to crap out on you for extended periods as you browse, but hang in there: you'll find an addictively fascinating look at the things we leave behind. Check it out here.

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