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Interesting Spaces

Sometimes you find yourself in an interesting spot.

Here we were exploring the powerplant at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital.

The boilers were nice and crusty, peely brick and rusty.

erie city boiler-11

Found a door that opened and decided that light painting would be fun.

so i set up a remote speedlight just inside the door way to light interior, and painted exterior w flashlight.

Unfortunately when i reached to get it, i managed to knock it over and it dropped down inside the boiler itself.

Leaning in to try to reach it i discovered that the opening was just wide enough for my body…

So I wiggled thru to get my speedlight, then looked about and realized what a cool space!

so decided to paint some more, with gels on my flashlight.

boil boil2-11

had my wingman shine a light in the square observation portal on the wall.

It kinda gets lost in my bright lights.

boil boil-11

Don’t know what was inside, but it was pretty deep with flakes of some metal…

Fortunately i wore gloves… and a mask…!  😉

Now, would like to learn how these things worked!  Guessing flames came from the round openings, warming the water in the pipes that ran across the wall and ceiling..

??


A night in the desert

Explored a number of places over a whirlwind weekend in Arizona.  One stop was an abandoned rest stop, under a full moon.

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The “TUNA FACTORY” of Alameda

Two abandoned warehouses sit in a fenced-in NE corner of the former Naval Air Station, which closed 15 years ago. Driving by a week ago I noticed the number of tractors and cranes at work tearing down the wooden roof and walls. As they did, the demolition exposed a bunch of graffiti on the concrete walls that remained. What caught my eye was “Swappy’s” giant iconic yellow horned-skull thing. I’ve seen his work in Detroit, New Orleans, Buffalo, Salton Sea, NYC, and all about the bay area. I had to get a snap of it.

I learned that this activity was set in motion when Alameda’s Planning Board approved the subdivision of the base parcel allowing actual building to start on a 10.2 acre pad (Parcel 1), which is the area where the warehouses are located.  This was in order to make way for a new Target store and some housing. Wednesday July 18 marked the  groundbreaking for first phase of the Alameda Landing development, and demolition of the warehouses began soon after. Amazing that after all these years of talk, there is activity on the base! But sad, as these vintage bldgs and urbex locations are disappearing…  (Interesting too is that this parcel includes that base hospital which mysteriously burned down a few years ago, where the AFD responded to three separate calls to put out fires, all in the same night, finally letting last one go due to the “presence of accelerant” and crew safety issues. How convenient the developers don’t have to deal with all that asbestos and lead paint… but i digress).

So it appears that for at least the last 5 years or more artists have been sneaking in to paint the interiors with large works of art, aka burns. The graffiti inside these huge structures was wall to wall, floor to ceiling in most places, 2-3 stories high. The floor was littered with empty spray cans, disposable gloves, and dried up rollers. The volume of work was amazing, perhaps comparable to SF’s old Tuna Factory – which met with a similar fate.

Here are some images from a few day and night visits I made in the last week, hoping to capture as much as possible before it was all gone.  Art on the wooden walls and giant sliding fire doors of the eastern-most warehouse were long gone, but i got most of what was left in the other bldg. See if you can read them. I’m sure this place had a real nickname. If you know, please share. Enjoy!

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5 POINTZ

Had a recent trip to NYC to visit my buddy Steff, who took me to some cool places. One of which was 5-Pointz, “the” place for serious graff. We got there the day after they wrapped filming for a Morgan Freeman flick, some action thriller due out Jan 2013. Met one of the volunteers, ZROK, who made a mural with Auks and Zimad using leftover cans from the other artists, recycling if you will (see Angry Birds pix). He gave me the lowdown and quick a tour of the complex. The entire space is covered with amazing burns, by artists from around the world. There is a cool bar/pub on the NE corner of the complex, The Shannon Pot, which has some killer deals, like a bucket of 10 iced PBR for $20. The Space Womb Gallery is next door.

No sense in reinventing the wheel, so here’s more background from Wiki:

5 Pointz: The Institute of Higher Burnin‘ or the 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center, Inc. is an outdoor art exhibit space in Long Island City, New York, considered to be the world’s premiere “graffiti Mecca,” where aerosol artists from around the globe paint colorful pieces on the walls of a 200,000-square-foot (19,000 m2) factory building. The complex owned by Long Island developer Jerry Wolkoff houses the Crane Street Studios in which 200 artists pay below market rents for studio space. In 2009 a 450-square-foot (42 m2) studio was listed as renting for $600/month.

It was announced in March 2011 that Wolkoff plans to redevelop the property to build high-rise residential towers, putting the future of 5 Pointz in jeopardy.

History: The complex was first established as the Phun Phactory in 1993 by Pat DiLillo under a program called Graffiti Terminators to discourage graffiti vandalism by encouraging artists to display their work in a formal showcase.

In 2002 Jonathan Cohen, a graffiti artist operating under the name “Meres” began curating the work. If he is not familiar with an artist, Cohen will ask for a sample of their work; if it is a mural, he will ask for a layout as well. The name 5Pointz signifies the five boroughs coming together as one but, because of its reputation as an epicenter of the graffiti scene, the industrial complex has actually united aerosol artists from across the world. Legendary writers from Canada, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Japan, Brazil, and all over the United States have painted on the building walls, including Stay High 149, Tracy 168, Cope2, Part, and Tats Cru.

Over the past decade, the striking, graffiti-covered warehouse has attracted several hip-hop and R&B stars, including Doug E. Fresh, Kurtis Blow, Grandmaster Kaz, Mobb Deep, Rahzel, DJ JS-1, Boot Camp Clik, Joan Jett, and Joss Stone. One of the first graffiti there was a portrait of Jam-Master Jay, an important member of the early hip hop musical style.

Source: Description above from the Wikipedia article 5 Pointz, licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here. Community Pages are not affiliated with, or endorsed by, anyone associated with the topic.

Collection of iphone and D700 snaps:

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Along Buffalo River

Had great adventures in the western NY back in March 2011, a day each with DEEVA and HSF.  Among all the cool stops we made, both days included visits along/near that squiggly river that separates the First Ward and the Outer Harbor.

While shooting at night I had just finished along the water and was moving towards some factory buildings when a patrol car rolled up. Cop asked a lot of questions, but once i explained what I was doing he started sharing info/history about Buffalo, his 20+ yr life on the force, and mentioned some key spots to hit. We chatted for 30 minutes on that cold night.  So I showed him my work in the camera and he said, “If i didn’t have to do traffic for the game ending in 20 minutes I’d have you hop in and take you to some spots.”  What a cool guy, right!

He was watchful as the area is magnet for trouble.  Sports event fans too cheap to pay for HSB Arena parking lot will leave their cars here (~1/2 mile away), and they get broken into for their laptops, phones, $$, etc. Though he was wondering what this guy dressed in black was doing down there, he was more concerned for my safety and the camera gear i was $hlepping…  It looks like the city is trying to revitalize the waterfront with a walkway.  Restaurants and retail likely to follow.

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Adios, Oak Knoll Naval Hospital

The largest and last building on the base was taken out.  The only structure that remains is the historic Officers Club.

BEQ, gone. Post Office, gone. Gymnasium, gone.
Tennis courts, swimming pool, power plant, commissary, barracks, motor pool, misc offices – all gone.

Here is a slow time-lapse of the big event:

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but if you’d like to see it more in real-time, try this HD video:

Here’s a slideshow of my first and only visit on the base, May of 2010.

Neighbors, former patients and workers, all await the the next phase of the property.
Many are hopeful for some kind of memorial/marker that honors it’s military past.


Motorcycle Graveyard: paying last respects

On my trip east in March’11, I stopped by Kohl’s Cycle Salvage in Lockport, NY, for a last peek and to confirm stories of a clean-out. I had not known it’s actual name until recently. Locals and explorers referred to it as the “motorcycle graveyard.” However, “motorcycle mausoleum” would have been more fitting. I had just visited there in August 2010, and I returned because fellow urbexers Scott H and Tunnelbug had mentioned some bike removal and big trash bins during their October pass through town. Hundreds and hundreds of bikes and parts had filled the building’s 4 floors, but were very weather damaged. Decrepitude! Everything had been exposed to the elements for many years. Timeline of the property had been unclear, but an awesome posting by Dynamite Dave explains some of the history, and his adventures.

Initially I was told the building was one of the parts plants for GM or Ford Motors back in the day; industrial use for sure. From Dave we learned it was purchased in the 1970’s by Kohl, a motorcycle enthusiast who owned several different shops over a span of 50 yrs, amassing a crazy amount of bikes and parts for sale and trade. Kohl then sold it to recent owner Frank around 1997, who turned it into salvage shop selling parts.

Back taxes were owed on the building, which needed some major repairs as it was starting to fall apart. Cost estimates for repairs were too high so nothing was done. City condemned building and locked it up. Over time people broke in to graffiti and mess with contents. Frank had to sue to get his inventory, and won, so the city gave deadline to get everything out by November 2010. Dave and some friends were able to purchase some of the choice inventory just in time, the rest was tossed into large bins and hauled away for scrap.  Check out Dave’s Story and Pics.

My visit was fun, but I was saddened by the loss of such an awesome one-of-a-kind place. It was amazing to see the place empty, however the building was in much worse shape this time. Places where I had stood just 7 months prior had collapsed. Despite the clean-out a few bikes remained, trapped in the rubble of the cave-ins.  Some were locked in ice from winter, which found its way in from many holes in the roof and walls. Walking on the ice was a bit tricky while carrying my gear. There was a cool 2 foot tall stalagmite of ice formed below a dripping pipe.

I’m sure city doesn’t have money to knock it down and will allow nature to have it’s way. I’d wager the Vegas line on major wall failure is for this summer. And I cannot imagine the place lasting another winter. It is extremely sketchy now. Glad I got my two visits, only wish I had had more! Have a few more shots of the empty floors, need to hdr them and hope to post soon.

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