It’s been awhile since I’ve done a blog post, so here’s a quick one about some of my favorite abandoned things in New York City. It’s by no means a comprehensive list since there are so many abandoned buildings, islands, lots, etc…in and around New York and I still have a list of places I’ve either gone to without photographing or will be going to soon. Here’s a small sampling of some of my favorites. I have flickr sets for each of these so follow the links if you want to see more!
Bottle Beach in Dead Horse Bay:
Bottle Beach is a stretch of beach that used to be a landfill next to a horse rendering factory (you know, glue and stuff) in lower Brooklyn near the also abandoned Floyd Bennett Field. The story goes that the horse rendering factories were running around the 1850′s and would dump animal carcases and bones in the bay. The landfill began around 1920 sealed in the 50′s but due to city digging later, it burst and tons of bottles washed up on shore where they still are now. Amongst the bottles you can find bits of horse bone from the factory, which is really creepy.
This photo is by Roger Kisby, all the rest are by me. This secret stretch of beach/garbage is near Bottle Beach if you climb the rocks at the tip of the beach and drop down onto this area. When I was sitting here with a friend and talking about how beautiful it all was, I also realized that this is what the apocalypse might look like. I’ve been watching too much Life After People on the History channel. More photos of Bottle Beach here and here’s one of some horse bones I collected.
The World’s Fair in Queens:
The Word’s Fair ran in 1964 and 1965 with the theme “Peace Through Understanding” and was made to show modern culture and technology. It’s history is way too long to get into here, but it’s worth researching and visiting.
When my brother came to visit me in NY for the first time, it was in January so it was freezing and no one was exploring the ruins, which just made it seem extra creepy. Since I took him here after Admiral’s Row and my favorite abandoned docks, I only showed him the weird, spooky side of New York that is all abandoned history. You know, because I hate crowds and people. More photos
Again, too much history to really get into without doing it a grave disservice, but the gist of the island is that although people inhabit it now, it was once home to this hospital, which functioned (in chronological order) as a penitentiary, the New York City Lunatic Asylum (yes, that was the official name) and a small pox hospital.
The building was abandoned in 1955. Prisoners were kept here throughout all that until they were finally transferred to Rikers where they now currently work on Hart Island which I can’t even begin to get into now but is probably the most fascinating, horrifying, mostly unknown part of historical and modern New York City.
There are two ways to get to Roosevelt Island now, which are either the F train, or the much more fun tram, which takes you over the water from Manhattan in a little bucket thing and drops you onto the island for only $4. It’s something I think everyone should do at least once. More photos
Random, abandoned docks and waterfronts
New York is lousy with abandoned docks and street ends where people fish or get into all kind of unsavory activities. One of my favorites is at the end of Huron St in Greenpoint. And of course there are tons of other amazing things abandoned in the water, like the 69th St Transfer Bridge.
Plum Beach (no B) is just a little stretch of mostly empty beach a bit north of Coney Island that’s easily accessible by the Belt Parkway bike path. This little structure on it is abandoned, but of course the beach isn’t, and I hope it never gets popular like the cluster fuck that is Fort Tilden. Fuck Fort Tilden. Maybe I shouldn’t be revealing Plum Beach…
That’s my trusty lil’ Specialized that has taken me on many an adventure and misadventure in New York and San Francisco.
Along Flushing Avenue is a stretch of abandoned mansions that served as naval officer’s housing as part of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The Navy Yard was closed in the 1960′s and the houses finally abandoned in the mid 70′s. Currently there is a battle going to save the mansions under the historical preservation act vs demolishing them for shitty high rise condos. Sigh. More photos
One of my favorite walks through Brooklyn coincidentally passes by Admiral’s Row, which I’ll briefly outline for you, should you want an awesome, one day walk around that area. I start up on Kent in Williamsburg and, passing the new condos and the impressive, abandoned Domino Sugar Factory (undergoing renovations for condos that semi-preserve its facade) and all the way down Kent to Flushing Ave. Take a right and walk along it (Admirals’ Row to your right) until you get to Navy St. Take a right and go explore Vinegar Hill, which was a neighborhood made mostly of sailors, the navy and other water related vocations. There are some great, old houses in the area. Then head left along the water (great view of the city) and down into the Brooklyn Bridge state park and picnic and explore Dumbo/Brooklyn Heights which is full of old, charming cobblestone streets and some delicious food.
The Castle (not in New York)
The Castle ruins are not in New York, but rather in northern California and are difficult to get to and largely unknown. There were always about a dozen kids in any given high school class that knew about it and would go there to smoke weed, but it was a well kept secret. I asked my little brother if anyone in his high school knew about it and much to my dismay, he said no, and then we got into a fight about how I think the internet is ruining the youth. Anyways, its history is frustratingly hard to research, as most of the googling I’ve done just pulls up my own photos and blog posts about it, and I’m not going to tell you where it is or how to get there, but you should definitely look at my flickr set about it.
I took/developed this photo with one of those olden timey FILM cameras for a high school photography class. I wish I’d stuck with it but I eventually stopped going class because I had some shenanigans to get up to at the places I was photographing and we all know how that story ends. But I regret not doing more photography. And not learning Spanish well. And quitting the piano. My mom was right!
I don’t do these places justice through my shoddy explanations and photographs, but here are two people do cover all these places and more with comprehensive histories and professional photographs.
1) The Kingston Lounge: Hands down my favorite urban exploration site, photographer and historian Richard Nickle has pretty much seen, explored and explained all of abandoned Brooklyn. His photographs are AMAZING.
2) Scouting New York: Nick Carr runs the site Scouting NY that he began during his job of scouting out places around NY and elsewhere for film locations. He’s been to all kinds of interesting places, but certainly has seen his fair share of weird, abandoned things around NY.