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!
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.