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Urban Decay

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Maybe I read too many fantasy novels, but I find abandoned and decaying buildings and theme parks absolutely fascinating. It could be the post-apocalyptic feel, or the beauty in man-made things being retaken by nature - or perhaps just the feeling of exploring a strange new world that few others have seen in a long, long time. Whatever the reason, I get a vicarious thrill out of seeing photographs like these:

Taken in Pripyat, an abandoned city near Chernobyl. Go here for lots more great shots by deviant_man. (Also try googling "Pripyat" - there are tons of amazing photos out there.)

When John and I were taking a black and white photography course back in college, we went exploring at a local drive-in movie theater, long abandoned. There wasn't much to see: a big overgrown field, some of the metal framework for the screen, and a small concessions building rotting away among the palmettos. Once inside, you could barely see the floor for all the broken glass, papers, film strips (!!) and general trash. Even so, I was thrilled. They'd even left the giant movie projector in there! Oh, it was heaven - even with the smell of urine and obvious evidence of squatters about.
Looking in, past the projection room door.

Because of our limited time and funds in the dark room (nothing digital in that class!), I don't have many pictures from that shoot. The projector was crammed in a tiny room with the windows boarded up, so it was too dark to photograph it with our ancient, flash-less manual. I've always regretted that, since we never went back and the place was bulldozed less than a year later.

Here's the exterior door:

And a shot of the surprisingly well preserved counter:

There's not much urban decay to explore here in Orlando, but about a month ago our local news featured Shane Perez, a self-proclaimed "recreational trespasser," who did something nuts: he and some friends swam across the alligator and bacteria-infested waters of Bay Lake to explore Discovery Island in Disney World. At night.

I'll let you read the goodies yourself, but take a look at this shot he took while on the island and tell me it doesn't look straight out of LOST:

The lights are still left on every night, despite the fact that the island was shuttered and abandoned over ten years ago. Brrr. Feel that? Creepy shivers. :)

Oh, and when you're done with that post, check out the rest of Shane's site: his portfolio is gorgeous. (Note: It's also NSFW as he uses nude models.)

And the final cherry on top: recently a friend linked me to this article: "8 Abandoned American Theme Parks 'Open' for Exploration" There are photos and even videos embedded in the article, so it's definitely worth a look.

Oh, and I think I once saw a book or website on abandoned movie theaters - the great old Art Deco style ones - but now I can't remember where. Let me know if that rings a bell, will you?

So, have any of you ever tried "recreational trespassing?" I'm far too law-abiding myself (not to mention too wimpy) to jump fences or swim through eel-infested waters, but I'm not above looking at your pictures if you have. :D And if you have any links to other sites with nifty photography of abandoned places, feel free to share those in the comments, too!

Posted by Jen at 9:00 AM Labels: , ,


  1. My husband (who is a photographer) and I have long been fascinated by empty and abandoned places and he has some wonderful photos he's taken over the years. We spent an enjoyable afternoon a few years ago exploring an abandoned factory or plant (we couldn't tell what had been produced there) in rural TN that we happened by drive past on a rural road.

    While my husband doesn't have any of those photos on a web site (yet), there IS a fascinating web site that a like-minded friend found that you might like:

    I guess there are a number of us who find these places fascinating. For my part, I like to imagine what it was like when these quiet places were bustling and filled with busy people . . .

  2. It's not exactly urban, but here's a recent photograph from a trespassing adventure:


    I was too afraid to go inside, though. It was rickety.

    And I'm a wuss.

  3. I've read a lot about urban exploration and watched some clips on youtube. There were groups around the country that explored places like this together. It was fascinating. I think I'd be more willing to do it as a group, than alone. Safety in numbers? :) Swimming to Discovery Island is insane though, as cool as it would be to see it again now that it's gone, I couldn't swim there in the dark!

  4. Oooh, Jen, have I got a website for you: http://www.opacity.us/

    I live next to St Clement's Hospital in London (http://eastlondonhistory.com/closure-of-st-clements-hospital/), which has been derelict for quite a while. A couple of years ago, my sister and I talked a security guard into letting us in and he walked us around the grounds - it was amazing, all the old garden tables & chairs were still there, and a rose garden. Wonderfully, the roses hadn't died - left completely to their own devices, they'd gone wild and were running rampant. Gorgeous. We didn't go inside the buildings, but I would have loved to and every time I walk past, I crane my neck to see which security guard is on duty. It's never our guy, though. We never saw him again after that day. Hmmmm.

  5. Whoa. I honestly thought that the first shot was something out of a video game.....I'm far too afraid of risking my life to do anything like the photographer did, however. Looks dangerous, but cool!

  6. There's a book about recreational trespassing called Access all Areas by Ninjalicious.

  7. I grew up in Danvers, MA, home to Danvers State Insane Asylum, which lay abandoned for many years before being demolished and turned into condos. I regret now that I was too chicken at the time to take up my brother's offer to tour the abandoned building before it was destroyed. (It would not technically have been trespassing, as he worked for the town and had access.) I found this Flickr set from someone braver than I: http://www.flickr.com/photos/halcyonmeter/sets/72157594366736415/with/299187000/

  8. Once in college, a group of friends and I went into an old dorm, long abandoned, with a video camera. It was pitch black and creepy. Mostly I remember the lobby was full of pianos. There must have been 10 of them. It was an exhilarating experience. The video is all black (we didn't want to use flashlights) but the audio is priceless. I never found out what happened to the pianos, but the building was reclaimed.

  9. My husband loves urban decay. He "visited" the old state mental hospital and came up with some great - although a little creepy for me - pictures of what's left. You can see his photos at www.ahaworth.com - the ones of the hospital are under the personal tab. Hope you enjoy them!

  10. I especially like the shot of the exterior door from the drive-in. The shadow on the wall on the right really makes the shot, I think.

    Over here in Japan, ruins like these are called "廃墟” [haikyo]. One blog that occasionally has haikyo-exploring posts is this one:


    I'm sure there are plenty more out there, though [both English and Japanese.]

  11. Urban decay pictures are kinda creepy - and I'm definitely too law-abiding (and wimpy!) to even trespass onto the grounds of an abandoned building, much less do something wild like Shane Perez! He's pretty brave :D

  12. A guy here in Maryland does the whole urban decay exploration thing, and gets some FABULOUS photos.


  13. Urban decrepitude and going where I'm not allowed = fun. One evening in the early 90's I and two friends broke into the disused Commerical Travellers building in Melbourne - pics (not mine) here http://www.pictureaustralia.org/apps/pictureaustralia?term1=commercial+travellers%27+club+melbourne&Submit=search&action=PASearch&attribute1=any+field&mode=search

    We crawled in through a broken basement window and went exploring the old building. It was a magnificent hulk abandoned in 1976. The interior as lit by torchlight was reminiscent of the hotel in Blade Runner http://www.johncoulthart.com/feuilleton/wp-content/uploads/2007/05/blade_runner.jpg

    Truly spectacular old building, I'll never forget sitting on the edge of the rooftop near a stone angel watching the city at night.

  14. The Salton Sea, and the town that used to thrive on its shore, Bombay Beach, are great search terms for some of the best images of urban decay. This place has always fascinated me. I haven't been there yet, but I am hoping to get there this summer.

  15. Hopefully you don't mind links to your blog ;) But I thought I should ask. I would have e-mailed you to ask but I couldn't find your address...imagine! Anyway I mentioned you over at http://rippingtales.wordpress.com/ for the 7 1/2 people that seem to have a look at it. Keep up the hilarity!

  16. I love old, abandoned barns. We also have a hospital that has boarded up and left unused for several years. I would love to get inside to take pictures.

  17. I think this is the site you're thinking of: http://abandonedtheaters.com/

    And while I'm a big wuss and have yet to go *inside* any of the cool places I've found, I have some external shots here: http://onethousandwordshome.blogspot.com/search/label/abandoned

  18. there is no such thing as too many fantasy books. =) in fact, as with so many things, the more the merrier!

  19. Orlando has a bunch of decaying places...

    River Country:

    Splendid China:

    There's also abandoned hotels all over 192 and International Drive. Xanadu Home of the Future was a favorite to see before they finally removed the structure. They left the sign up, though, which is weird. There's an old haunted house that's on 192, too.

    And housing developments that haven't been completed

  20. Back in college, a friend of mine was obsessed with the old Idora Park site in Youngstown, OH. Apparently a lot of people were; this site has some great pics, taken a few years before we'd heard of Idora. http://web.mac.com/ronflaviano/iWeb/idorapark/Home.html

  21. My friends and I went on a tour of Eastern State Penitentiary in Philly about a year ago and it is a law abiding way to see some seriously creepy and decaying architecture. Their website has some good info and pictures:

    There are also some on one of my old blogs*:

    *Which I am not promoting since I no longer post!

  22. I am a huge fan of urban decay photography (though am still working up the nerve to try it myself!). One of the most talented photographers I've found writes under the pseudonym Richard Nickel Jr. (Richard Nickel was one of the photographers who pioneered the movement.) He puts a lot of his photos up at: http://kingstonlounge.blogspot.com/ Haunting, beautiful, unnerving stuff.

  23. I love photography and am a wimp, too law abiding I guess.

    This guy has phenomenal photos

  24. That's awesome!
    I took a small class trip (photography class) a few years back to this huge abandoned brick building that used to be a school. It was uber creepy--especially in the auditorium where the seats had been ripped out and the floor was a jagged rippling mess of floorboards. None of us were brave enough to go into the basement!! I took a lot of pics with my camera but only made comp sheets for most of them. I scanned those comp sheets and blew them up a bit--they're in my photobucket (They start here: http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v319/GothicGeek/Artwork/?action=view&current=1-1.jpg and there are another 21 or so after it). The building has since been gutted and turned into office spaces and the like so I'm glad I got to take pics.

  25. Wow, your B&W pics are especially impressive considering that they were done on film! My husband gave me his last roll of B&W film in his old Minolta, and I think I got one passable picture.

    And my childhood was made almost entirely of recreational trespassing, but of the rural and domestic kind... I wandered into hunting leases, back-forty pine forests, and disintegrating houses abandoned to the woods decades ago.

    When I went back to visit a year ago, a lumber company had stripped most of my old stomping grounds into tattered brush, and all the old houses were gone-- some burned by vandals, others bulldozed to make way for cows. I have to agree: when you find someplace truly magical, get your camera out and take as many pictures as you can. They don't last long.

  26. http://www.institutionalgreen.org/ This is my friends site. We used to go all of the time, taking roadtrips, planning infiltrations. It was a great time. It used to be very easy, now it's getting harder...more security, more drastic penalties for trespassing...so I stepped down years ago, she still goes and still cranks out amazing pictures.

  27. Oh Wow Jen! I can see I'm going to spend my day cruising all the sites you and all the commenters posted. :)

    I'm personally in love with old falling apart barns and farm houses. I grew up in KS and OK and there are a lot of houses and barns (usually abandoned and overgrown) that are from the original homesteaders. I was actually thinking of photographing them and creating a book. You have encouraged me!! Thanks!

  28. I like this site - http://www.opacity.us/ - the guy takes some fantastic photos.

  29. I, too, find abandoned buildings fascinating! Check out this abandoned dog racing track (built in the 1960's and only used for a year or two). It's on the I-10 near Goodyear when you're going from Phoenix to California. This website isn't the best I've seen on it, but I couldn't find the one I liked a few months ago :(

  30. PS - Do you watch History Channel's "Life After People"? I love when they go to sites that have been abandoned. It's interesting to see how quickly nature takes over.

  31. It's so funny that you posted this because just yesterday I was looking at this site - http://www.dirjournal.com/info/abandoned-places-in-the-world/ - and thinking about how cool it would be to go to one of those places and get some shots of my own!

  32. Well, there goes my productivity. Who needs clean floors when there are so many awesome urban decay links to check out?

    As for me, I once went with my brother and friend to explore an old, abandoned mental hospital near where I live. I'm told the hospital was demolished not long afterward (which is too bad, because some parts of it were beautiful), but at least we managed to get some pictures while we were there: http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr262/Coactor/Asylum%20Adventure/
    (They're not the greatest pictures, but I'm glad we got what we did.)
    We also explored the abandoned groundskeepers house and examined such relics as holiday cards and photographs left from the 70s. It was quite the interesting adventure. :]

    There are certainly other neglected and decrepit buildings we'd love to explore (we're in Massachusetts, so we have lots of old structures around here), and I guess we'll have to find a decent camera to take with us when we do. :D

  33. Jenn "Joey LaRoo" AllenJune 13, 2010 at 1:50 PM

    God, get out of my head! Everything you post - here, and on Cake Wrecks - is so absolutely right up my alley that it's like you've known me my entire life. It's bordering on eerie!

    Speaking of eerie, there was an abandoned retirement home (which really looked much more like a derelict, I dunno, asylum er something) crumbling away at the end of my block when I was a kid. It appeared as though whoever was there had left in a hurry; the image of a rusted and sun-bleached washing machine with mildewed clothing tumbling out is permanently etched into my brain. I've never been able to wrap my brain around that forgotten laundry.

    It's a shame that I never took photos, but all I had was one of those blue plastic Fisher-Price point and shoots (c'mon, I was 9). I went back recently only to discover that it had been leveled and replaced with fancy-shmancy houses. What, didn't anyone want to go swimming in the four inches of rainwater and muck at the bottom of the pool? Really? Such a sadly squandered opportunity.

    I never actually went inside (the exterior was creepy enough, thankyouverymuch) and I was just a wussy little kid. But wussiness aside, that place was a flame that my mini-Mothra ass flitted around all the time. I wish it was still there, especially since I'm ballsier and packing a killer camera these days! Living in the SF Bay Area, land is at such a premium that nothing really stays abandoned for long before somebody comes along and turns it into condos or million dollar homes. It's such a shame (well, for people who dig the whole urban decay thing, anyway).

    Not that it's derelict, but my big dream is to wander around Pirates of the Caribbean after hours. Aside from the amazing pirate-water smell, I'm desperate to climb around in there and look at everything up close. I'd be shot on sight, but a girl can dream... *sigh* :^)

  34. When I was 9 my parents built a house in a development that used to be a farm. A year after we moved in, my friends and I found the old farm house and some of the buildings around it. I'd say it was around 200 years old and people (homeless) occasionally stayed there. (We could tell from the smell.)

    When my mom found out we were exploring the buildings she told us it was too dangerous and we could never go back. We did anyway, it was just too fascinating.

    We also found other old buildings in the area and loved to try to get inside them to see what was there. (We would break windows or doors, but usually someone else had.)

    Twenty years later most of these homes have been restored. However, they were restored by private owners the you can't even get near them to see them. Makes me sad.

  35. I loooove old and/or abandoned places too. I don't have any pictures from it, but down the street from my house used to be an old, abandoned farm. The farmhouse is still there, but I think they were having lots of trouble with trespassers like me :) so they tore it down shortly after a few friends and I explored it for one of their photo classes. The farmhouse is still there, and I really hope they don't tear it down before I get a chance to look around. My friends and I also used to play airsoft int he woods around an abandoned servant's house. That was really cool, but Hurricane Ike winds that hit Ohio blew it down. I wish I had pictures of all the abandoned places I love, but they all get torn down before I think of it! I'll have to go take picture of the abandoned gun-powder factory I live near before they decide to tear that down too. When I do, I'll link you the pictures. :)

  36. This is one of my favorite 'abandoned places' websites of all time: http://www.kiddofspeed.com/chapter1.html. The woman rides a motorcycle through the environs of Chernobyl!! I think you'll enjoy it too.

  37. I WISH my friend Mikael was still alive so I could give him a title to describe his passion: recreational trespassing. He was always finding ways into abandoned buildings in his home city of Winnipeg. He had no qualms about walking around in dangerous buildings in dangerous neighborhoods in the middle of the night. He was also an amazing photographer.

    Thank you for this post, which has left me in tears remembering my beloved friend who took his own life this past September. Here is his blog if anyone is interested in reading about his adventures:


  38. I love post apocalyptic photography, there's just something about it that makes part of me want to run away screaming, and then there's that other part that forces me to analyze that photo to it's fullest extent. I have personally never really trespassed and I would never swim in nervous system damaging bacteria infested waters, but I did like this video of Lady Gaga I found on Youtube by William Sikora entitled 'Apocalypse' (WARNING: It's a little disturbing for me, but I'm pretty sure the rest of us could handle it.): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8709Y32ht-w&feature=fvw

  39. I fnd this site fascinating: http://www.simoncornwell.com/urbex/ UK urban exploration, lots of exploring old mental asylums and other places.

    Love the variety of subjects you've covered in your blog so far by the way!

  40. @ Jenn - funny you should mention Pirates of the Caribbean...

    When I was a Jungle Cruise skipper, I actually got to tour behind the scenes of Pirates here in WDW. It was one of the highlights of my entire Disney working experience. :) Of course, since the Pirates cast member who took me back also told me stories about the resident ghost, George, I was also a bit creeped out. Heh.

    (The legend was that George was a construction worker somehow killed during the ride's construction. I've never looked that up to verify it, though.)

    It's very dark behind the ride scenes, of course, and mostly what I remember is walking below the waterline & seeing all the Pirates & women who chase each other: some are only waist-up animatronics, mounted on poles that wheel around. Eerie.

  41. A series of pictures showing the decay of Detroit.

  42. I totally share your facination for abandoned places. The pictures you posted are awesome. :)

    We have a couple of interesting spots here in and around Berlin, Germany.
    Last year I "recreationally trespassed" into the Field Station Berlin, an abandoned American monitoring station, and was overwhelmed how much it had changed in the five years since I had last been there.

    We also have our own abandoned theme park. Unfortunately one with a good security guard, so I only got to take a few shots from outside.

  43. I was doing some digging into the old Hotel Sterling in Wilkes-Barre, PA and came across this photo set:


    It's only been about 15 years since the last residents were cleared out, and it's already a magnificent desolation. From what I've heard, it was like that BEFORE the residents moved out, too.

  44. I live near Glen Echo, mentioned in the article you linked, but I haven't been there yet. Soon, soon. However, while I was in high school some friends and I found an abandoned farmhouse on Rising Road. The front steps were all torn out (probably made of high-quality and resalable wood) but the back "servant" steps were still intact, so we were even able to go upstairs. I loved it. Sure, there was debris and broken glass everywhere, but I am a sucker for urban decay. If you're ever in the Philadelphia area, be sure to check out Eastern State Penitentiary. My husband and I loooooved it there. Most of our photos are from there, actually:
    (It's easy to tell which are from Eastern State.)

  45. I too enjoy old, abandoned buildings. Somehow to me though there is a sense of sadness that I can never shake when I explore or see them. The lives that were lived there and the memories the places hold.

    Anyway, living in Michigan, I found this site fascinating - http://www.marchandmeffre.com/index.html - they explored many of the beautiful, but (unfortunately)abandoned, buildings in Detroit.

  46. Mental Floss (do you read that?) has a "column" called Strange Geographies and many of them end up being photographs of abandoned places. Here's a few links:




  47. When I was doing rebuilding in New Orleans, I squeezed through the chain link fence and into an elementary school that had been flooded right after school had started.


    The school work still on the bulletin board. The flag that was above the high water mark. The welcome back sign that's tattered but still there. The "Quiet" sign that is in pristine condition....

    I can send the link, I just don't want to post it.

  48. If you haven't already, you need to read "Paper Towns" by John Green. There's a *lot* in that novel about urban exploration in Orlando. It's kind of a key part of the plot. (It's supposed to be made into a movie sometime soon, but no one knows if and when that'll happen.)

  49. I just did this! I'm a photographer in minnesota, and I just went into an old factory to photograph it before they tear it down in like a week :(

    I had SO much fun!!! I love that exploration feeling! It felt like zombies were going to jump out and eat us! :)

    I have some of the shots up, and more to come:

    So, head back or add my page to see the new ones that should be up in a few days!

    -side note: I shot photos there 3 times last week, and on friday, so construction guys saw us and we almost got caught! It was pretty fun :D

  50. For those of you in search of "legally accessible" decay. You can tour the old penn. in Mansfield OH. It's where Shawshank Redemption and various other things were filmed.

  51. There are some really amazing (and haunting) shots here: http://kensinger.blogspot.com. Enjoy!

  52. If you are ever in Maui you have to track down old Maui High School. So creepy but very cool!

  53. http://www.michaeljohngrist.com/2010/06/dunes-envelop-the-namibian-toytown-of-kolmanskop/

    some gorgeous decay photos!

  54. http://www.divinecaroline.com/22249/99989-50-year-discovery-london-subway#1

  55. Having just moved to Orlando and becoming a CM, I am amazed at how much Disney just doesn't use of the space it has. They still have the Pocahontas show stage up, with all the empty cages for the animals backstage. It's still used for training purposes. But the island creeps me out and I will go nowhere near there.

  56. I live in CT, a few years ago me and my boyfriend visited "HolyLand USA" in Waterbury.


  57. Urban Exploration is totally a pet interest of mine. (It's really the main reason I watch those ghost shows on Discovery Channel.) My friends don't get it. Abandoned buildings are absolutely gorgeous, and if most the buildings in Mississippi weren't covered in rattlesnakes or crack needles, I'd be exploring every weekend. :)

    As for links, I found this: http://www.opacity.us/ researching Urban Exploration. Also, type 'abandoned' in the search box at TVTropes. There are several settings that apply, and there are always picture links in the Real Life sections.

  58. Strange you bring this up today. I just heard of some old boarded-up parts of the Underground in London that have been rediscovered. Pretty neat stuff, and since I once lived in Notting Hill, I was jazzed: http://www.divinecaroline.com/22249/99989-50-year-discovery-london-subway#1

  59. If you get a chance, add me on facebook (Chuck Cline) - I took some cool pics of an old TB hospital in Athens, OH that you might be into.

  60. Am I the only one here who finds urban decay utterly depressing? Once beloved places left to fall to ruin while the world goes on without them, the physical reality of the destructive crush of time...I think I've read too many of the wrong sort of post-apocalyptic fantasy books!

  61. Chernobyl:


  62. Dutch from the blog Sweet Juniper! has written some fascinating posts about urban exploring in Detroit - his urban exploring archives are here. A couple posts really worth reading (he's an amazing photographer, and a tremendous storyteller, too) are these about his explorations of a abandoned zoo, an elementary school, and one that received a lot of media attention about the Detroit Book Depository. He's also got a cool series of photos of feral houses.

  63. Jim at sweet-juniper.com has some awesome decay pictures of Detroit. A sapling growing out of a stack of books in an old book depository. He also has a series of 'when nature takes over' houses that are engulfed by trees/ivy/shrubs etc. Pretty cool stuff.

  64. Not that you need one more site to waste time on, but I follow a blogger who lives in Detroit (by choice!), which is pretty much the American center of urban decay. He's taken some amazing pictures of schools, the old Belle Isle Zoo, and other abandoned places around the city. He also has 2 young kids that he takes to awesome places in and around Detroit. Check it out here: http://www.sweet-juniper.com/

  65. I looked at some pictures one day of Chernobyl, post-meltdown. Very creepy. Because people left so suddenly, many personal items were still sitting around everywhere.


    WV: berse: "Second berse, same as the first. A little bit lowder and a little bit worse..."

  66. I couldn't find a way in to a spooky house in Maryland, but I did get some good shots of the outside, and of the creepy, non-human inhabitants. Blogged here: http://www.franticallysimple.com/2008/02/23/poor-tony/

  67. I really enjoy when this guy leaves a post: http://kensinger.blogspot.com/2010/05/this-building-has-story.html

  68. After Newfoundland joined Canada, the provincial government started a resettlement program to concentrate the population around things like roads, electrical grids, schools and hospitals. A lot of homes were moved but there are some entire communities out there still standing, including churches and graveyards. All in all some 600 communities were abandoned. I doubt that anyone is currently capitalizing on Urban Decay tourism dollars but you'd need local help to get to these places. Worth it, though! Newfoundland is a beautiful place!

  69. I've done a little bit, but I also have a job that would fire me for being arrested. So I have to be careful and avoid the blatant trespassing. I tend to explore places where I could easily get away with being in an abandoned area - half-renovated buildings, old public parks, etc.

    I had the luck of staying at an old decrepit NY hotel property a few times, and snapped some photos:


    The downside is that this hotel also gave me bedbugs. But I got plenty of cool photos, and they had started renovating/demolishing/cleaning out by the next visit.

  70. You should Google Gunkanjima. It's an abandoned island in Japan. Super cool!

    Here's a link with a few photos, but I'm certain you could find more with minimal searching.


  71. Some great photos here, including Neverland Ranch and an abandoned Boy Scout camp: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tunnelbug/collections/72157603883987640/

    Check out his "Favorites" set if you're short on time:

  72. This reminds me of when I went to see the Coco Palms hotel in Hawaii. It's where Elvis filmed a movie. Anyways, it was hit by a hurricane in 92 and then the owners tried to commit fraud so the property has been frozen by court order so its abandoned and ruined. Pretty neat looking

  73. check out sweet-juniper.com. Jim lives in Detroit so he may have some of the same shots as that other Detroit site. Look on the right hand side for a list of categories. The ones labelled "abandoned places", "nature fights back", "zoo" and "feral houses".

    Feral Houses is my favorite. The first entry under Zoo is about the abandoned zoo on Belle Isle.

  74. We have an art deco movie house from 1938 that we are trying to restore. It was recently named to the list of most endangered buildings in Illinois so we are hoping that will help with grants to get it back up and running. All of the original interior fixtures are in storage we just have to get the building in shape to have them reinstalled. It's the Massac Theatre in this article. http://www.landmarks.org/ten_most.htm

  75. When we we're teenagers the "thing to do" was to explore the abandoned insane asylum in Pontiac MI. Not the best area to be screwing around in- but it just added to the danger. We'd all grab flashlights and spend hours exploring the place. There were three different buildings. We all took photos but I don't think we have any anymore.

    Another favorite...Our middle and high school were built during the cold war. There were rumors they were connected by a series of tunnels in case of a bomb or attack. One night me and 3 friends removed the gym door by it's hinges and found the grate everyone talked about in the storage closet. The rumors were right! There were definitely tunnels and LOTS of spiders.

    We also used to hang out in abandoned houses...they weren't too hard to come across in the Detroit suburbs. We never vandalized- just photographed. Same with the old Detroit Train Station- that was truly frightening though.

  76. Wow those photos make me want to go out and get some interesting photos. My luck however I would be arrested, disowned and my husband would claim amnesia to ever knowing me lol.

  77. I second BrerMatt's motion for the River Country photos (here's the direct link, instead of going through boingboing) - there's a LOT of them, especially considering they trespassed on Disney territory, and it's super-neat - and Clementine's for opacity.us, which I just discovered.

    Also, Kirkbride Buildings, which is about a bunch of the old, Kirkbride-style insane asylums built in the 19th century. I went to college in Northampton, MA and the old Northampton hospital was on the other side of campus, but like --K., I never took the opportunity to go see it before it was destroyed in 2007, which, believe me, I'm not happy about.

    And Abandoned Stations, about New York City's abandoned subway stations.

  78. There must be a word for that particular combination of nostalgia, fear, loss and possibility that urban ruins evoke.

    Steven Moffat almost nailed it in his script for the Dr Who episode "Blink"...

    Sally Sparrow: I love old things. They make me feel sad.

    Kathy Nightingale: What's good about sad?

    Sally Sparrow: It's happy for deep people.

  79. While at Uni at Glasgow (UK), two of my friends and I went and explored the nearby abandoned subway station. We got some cool pictures (will need to find them on my friends facebook for you).

    We were going to walk down to disused track to the next abandoned station, which was more 'intact' and still had all the tiling (there is a fenced off hole in the ground in the park where you can look down into it) but the tunnel was all boarded up! =(

  80. while i share the fascination with abandoned buildings (as a child we got to play in an abandoned brick factory in switzerland that belonged to a friends father and it was the best place to play in EVER!) i find the above picture just plain depressing. scores of families forced to abandon everything they own (including pets) in the aftermath of a horrific man made reactor-accident -that makes one hell of a scenario for a video game indeed.

  81. I wish today, that I _had_ had a camera with me while doing some "Recreational Trespassing", but when I was a kid, there was a great old lighthouse that had burned out, and some of the teenagers assigned to "watch" us littles had broken in one of the boarded windows and we all went in for a look. It was amazing in there! Quite a few years later, I was in an office that had a wall calendar featuring LI lighthouses, and the month we were on just happened to feature the Cedar Point lighthouse, which, not at that time, but more recently has been being restored.

  82. Where were these photos a year ago when I was designing an abandoned drive-in for school?? >.<

    Anyway. Awesome photos. =D

  83. http://www.darkroastedblend.com/2010/06/battleship-island-other-ruined-urban.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+TheThrillingWonderStory+(Dark+Roasted+Blend&utm_content=Google+Reader

    This website is fab! It is full of amazing pictures of abandoned urban sites.

  84. i LOVE abandoned places! i haven't gotten around to exploring any of my own with a camera, but i hope to at some point.

    i follow a great livejournal community devoted to these types of pictures...


  85. I like the photos you took, especially the one of the doorway - the shadows and sunlight on the wall create such a contrast.

    There are a few good Urbex websites that you can lose yourself in - I understand the thrill of looking at photos of abandoned places! Here is my humble contribution, from when I work on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh: http://www.flickr.com/photos/coppelia-crafts/sets/72157623191748181/

    As for official websites, you must read this one: http://www.simoncornwell.com/urbex/frames.htm
    I really enjoy his visits to Cane Hill, there's something really thrilling about the decay: http://www.simoncornwell.com/urbex/projects/ch/index.htm
    (Scroll down to part 8, the explorations.)

    There's also the urban exploration webring:
    (ignore the draining in the title). You'll find some really terrible sites there, but also some really good ones. I'd also recommend Opacity, but I see someone has already recommended him!

  86. Central Terminal here in Buffalo, NY is a fantastic site, replete with history, long abandoned and abused. It's been called the most beautiful example of art deco in the world. A few hardy folks are finally trying to turn it around, but it's still plenty abandoned.

    Best part: the statue Progress, a mysterious concrete sculpture which appeared one night in the lot outside the structure. It supposedly represents Mary and Jesus, but to me it looks like a much creepier angel of death.

    Here's the juciest link:

    And the restoration society's site:

  87. "eel infested waters" Sounds like a quote from Princess Bride to me - love it!
    I really enjoyed the History channel's "After Human" series because they would find places utterly abandoned and tell their story. Some are surprisingly creepy at what we can do to the earth and how it retaliates.

  88. I've always been fascinated by old, decaying places as well. And until the internet came along, I thought I was the only one!

    I've never done any 'commando' photography, but maybe I will in the future.

    As for the Disney thing, you'd think they'd go back and demolish it not just leave it there to molder. That's so weird. I'm amazed that Shane was able to get there and do all that without getting caught.

  89. You would appreciate "Weird New Jersey." It's a magazine that featured just such spots as well as local ghost stories, mysterious lights, and creepy/funny roadside attractions. I've roamed many things mentioned in the magazine, such as the abandoned insane asylum/"epileptic village." They made a book, then they made a book "Weird U.S.", then books for other states. There's probably one for Florida. Totally awesome. http://www.weirdnj.com/

  90. I'm actually plotting a visit to a place in the near future......... and if I say more than that, I'll have to leave you tied and gagged in the backroom. >_>

    The trick is getting past security. It is patrolled regularly. If you never hear from me again.... well... yeah.... send a CAKE with a file in it. O.o

  91. I'm surprised no one mentioned http://abandoned-places.com/, unless they did and I didn't catch it while skimming the comments.

    Cool site I had almost forgotten existed, now I have to go check for updates. :)

  92. The Sunday post and pics are wonderful. Thank you,Jen.
    And thanks to all who gave urls to other great Urban Decay stories and pics.
    The Disney one and Chernobly...
    our poor earth.

    I shall explore them all.

  93. There is a beautiful photo book of abandoned state mental hospitals called "Asylum: inside the closed world of state mental hospitals". At one time, these building were major points of civic pride and the architecture is simply breathtaking.

  94. I once toured an old hotel that had been closed with no notice - apparently during or just after a banquet or something. The tables were still set and covered with meal detritus (and dust and cobwebs). Very spooky.

  95. An ex boyfriend and I used to read "Weird NJ" magazine for places to explore and take snaps of. One of our first forays into recreational trespassing was to the severely abandoned Essex Mountain Sanatorium in Verona, NJ.
    There weren't many buildings left (it was in the middle of being torn down to build a high-priced McMansion neighbourhood), but it was still thrilling to wander around and see the old hospital's buildings.
    Of course we forgot the camera. When we got home, I raved and raved about the place until I found a website put together by a guy more obsessed than me. By the time we were able to get back up there, everything except the old parking lots were gone. :(

  96. I used to work for security companies a while back, and one night I went on a ride along with one of our patrol supervisors. She took her nephew and I to Dammasch State Hospital in Wilsonville (Oregon) on her patrol, and told us about it being haunted and the kinds of creepy things that people had reported. A friend and I later went back at night with cameras and sound recorders (I'm sure I still have the tape around somewhere) and spent a few hours just checking things out. It was a really fun and creepy experience, and I was saddened when it turned out that the whole place had been demolished about a year later to make way for a housing development. If I can find the pictures that I took, I'll send them to you, but in the meantime, here is the website for the old hospital. http://www.dammasch.com/

    BTW, I LOVE this kind of stuff and really enjoyed your post.

  97. If you ever go to Alcatraz, one of the smaller buildings (I believe it was once the Warden's residence, but I could be wrong) has been completely reclaimed by greenery. It's gorgeous how the branches overtake the broken down walls.

    I have always wanted to travel the length of Route 66 for many reasons, not the least is the numerous abandoned buildings. I live near Palm Springs, CA, and there are so many unique structures that have been left to decompose in the blistering desert sun. Now I just need to take some photography classes and buy a decent camera. I really like the pictures you and John took of the drive in, though it makes me glad that ours is still operational.

    Along the same vein is old cemetaries . . .

    Sadly, I'm left wondering if our children will some day visit abandoned towns along the Gulf coast and take pictures like the first one in your post.

  98. You should REALLY check out this Flickr set by Sebastian T.-


    The photos are of the old Hudson River Psychiatric Center in Poughkeepsie, NY. I've never been but I would love to check it out in person (I work less than 5 miles away from there, I'm just a weenie). There are hundreds of other photos of this old place, but these are just breathtaking!!

  99. Oh my goodness, this is so incredibly awesome. I LOVE photos/documentaries about these kinds of places. And here I thought I was a lone freak for thinking they were so fascinating.

  100. Love old amusement parks. Here is something you have to see:


    The Brigantine Castle was a Haunted House near Atlantic City, NJ. Unfortunately, it burned down before I was brave enough to enter it.

  101. I made it to the roof of the Embassy Suites hotel by the Altamonte Mall one time. That was a long time ago, back when I was young and reckless. :) Didn't take my camera, though, or I wouldn't gotten some cool shots of the lake as they were in the process of building it.

  102. Some of the best photo essays I have ever seen. Many include abandoned buildings.


    (P.S. I love love love love this blog. Keep doing what your doing!)

  103. In college there was an old insane asylum near campus that most of it had been abandoned for quite a while. We had some connections and a group of us took a tour late at night which was extra scary but lead to no pictures :( Here are some from various users on Flicker though

    Here is a link to the creepiest thing there though! http://www.forgottenoh.com/Ridges/ridgeshaunts.html

  104. http://www.uer.ca/
    is another great urban exploration resource!

  105. Ah I love photogrophy. My older brother was a REALLY good photogropher; he took an amamzing black-and white photo of these rocks he found near our house. Sounds boring but the rocks were naturally brick-shaped to create a "Wall" and a small space right next to the creek he found it at. I was going to take a photogropy course at school but they cut it; so I'm roally ticked at the School Borad at the moment. But I'm going to save up my meager earnings and see if I can buy a decent digital camra in the near/distance future. And I'm to chicken to swim to Discovery Island! *Shivers* BUT I'm not all that freaked out by abandoned warehouses or factories (Okay maybe a little...)

  106. you might find what my brother does really interesting. he has a blog, http://www.thecolorblindphotographer.com/ and if you look through his galleries a lot of what he does is in abandoned buildings (apparently there's a lot in upstate new york). one of the really interesting ones he shot in was an old abandoned institution. he also does a lot models inside some of these places, it's interesting work.

  107. These are sick! I'm a member of a Zombie Walk group in LA and we just filmed a Butterfingers commercial in a building slated for demo. It totally looked abandoned and post apocalyptic :)

  108. I know exactly what you mean, Jen. I think that fascination was why I loved the first Myst game so much... exploring those abandoned areas, not a soul around, trying to figure out what had happened... that photo from Treasure Island made me think of Myst.

  109. I loves me some post-apocalyptic imagery.

    While driving through Lime, Oregon last summer, we saw from I-84 an abandoned factory that I wish we'd had time to explore. I found some pictures others took of it: http://www.lyza.com/2009/09/29/weekend-abandoned-cement-plant-in-lime-oregon/

    And in trying to find those pictures again to post here, I found this charming site:


  110. Loving the urban decay, inspired me to search again for photos of a building I have been looking for for ages "Times Mill" and found this forum by steeplejacks! The text is a bit dull in places but the photos are amazing. Warning -Pg 97 is a bit risque! Shame about the model!

  111. I used to trespass in a local old decrepit Cotton Mill to take photos and just generally explore. Funny thing is, they've since renovated it and turned it into office loft spaces and a wedding venue. I'm actually shooting a wedding there this fall! It's pretty darn pricey too.

  112. all these links will keep me busy for hours, I love this stuff. I recently fulfilled a long held ambition to visit the village of Tyneham in Dorset, England.

    This village was taken over by the army during the last World War as they wished to use the surrounding area for tank practice. The inhabitants pretty much left it as it was, having been promised they could return after the war. Sadly they were never allowed to go home. The village is largely ruined now but many parts are still pretty well preserved, and it’s like stepping into a time warp.

    I have also discovered a number of old railway platforms buried deep in the woods, totally reclaimed by nature (you’d never find them without a GPS and very precise coordinates) – I love to stand on them and imagine the old steam trains passing by.

    All fascinating stuff.

  113. I also find photographs of abandoned places haunting. However I read recently that most of the destruction in the towns-near-Chernobyl pictures aren't natural decay but actually largely the result of vandals and looters.

  114. Jen, I've seen the Chernobyl pictures in the past and I was absolutely facinated. To the point where I wanted to get my passport and money and make my own trip! Awesome pics.

  115. There's a few sites that describe defunct shopping centers/malls so some of it is urban decay(some of them are just converted into newer things). Still interesting though.

  116. I wish I could link you a photo of our old abandon house that we will be re-doing later this year. It has not been lived in and no one (but us) have been in it in over 10 years! I have pics of the outside but none so far of the inside - I should do that before we do anything to it - before and after shots!

  117. I love photographing places like this. I'm really glad to hear I'm not the only one who finds it so fascinating!
    I'd never seen those Discovery Bay pictures either - I've forwarded it on to all my Disney geek friends! :O)

  118. You would love my friend, Rich, on Facebook. He loves to break into abandoned buildings and take photos and they are REALLY good!

    I don't know if he's public, but you should check him out.


    The ones of the jail are my favorite.

  119. You should read The World Without Us by Alan Weisman! I got so excited when I was reading his account of how Manhattan will come crumbling down.. it's a great book, especially if you're fascinated by what happens to a world without people.

  120. I couldn't find photos from inside the book, but "Detroit Disassembled" is a great book about how the Motor City has changed.


  121. I haven't read all of the comments yet, as I had a car wreck yesterday and have trouble concentrating on the screen for too long right now. That being said, if you haven't watched "Life After People" on the History Channel, you have missed out. The focus of the show is urban decay and how long man-made things will last (and why) after people are extinct. I find it fascinating.

    I also love to take photos of "reclaimed architecture", as I like to call it. When I get better, I will try to send you some of what I have. I hope to gain access (with approval this time) to an area hospital for mentally and physically handicapped children, which has been closed for about 10 years. It is slated for destruction next month, so I hope to go back there with my camera soon. The first time I was there, I did not have a camera - or even a flashlight, which is a must. I don't believe in ghosts, but that place is spooky!

  122. Love the links. I've done some low key recreational trespassing and I would seriously LOVE the opportunity to swim over to Discovery Island.

  123. I’m completely fascinated with pictures of derelict buildings and whatnot. Have you seen http://www.abandoned-places.com/ ?

  124. I hear you Jen. I love abandoned buildings too. You should check out this site I found not too long ago. It's amazing! There are a ton of abandoned castles and such on it. http://abandonedireland.com/start.html

  125. Oh so awesome! My good friend's favorite photography subject is abandoned buildings. He recently took a trip to an abandoned steel mill and has a really cool series of shots here: http://buweneke.blogspot.com/2010/06/carrie-furnace-1.html and here: http://buweneke.blogspot.com/2010/06/carrie-furnace-2.html

    He has plenty other post-apoplectic themes on his blog too

  126. Have you ever heard of the artist Anna Schuleit? (She was a MacArthur fellowship winner a few years ago.) She did an installation in an abandoned mental health facility in response to the fact that you rarely see flowers in such institutions. 28,000 potted flowers and 5,000 sq ft of sod later and you get this:

  127. I love abandoned places. It's just amazing what happens to a place once humans leave it. For my final photography project in college my theme was "Forgotten" and I took this series from an abandoned 1860's mansion in NJ:


  128. There is a series out there called "Life after People" -- it gives you CGI (pretty good ones at that) images of what happens to the major cities 5, 10, 50, 100, 1000, 50,000 years after people just vanish from the face of the earth.

    I think it's based on a non-fiction book that came out a few years ago? It also talks about how long that seed bank up in the glaciers does as well as other attempts at immortal construction. :)

    Unfortunately without maintenance bots -- it amazing how fast it all falls apart. :)

    It's really interesting. Particularly what happens in Boston when the river goes back to it's natural flow!

  129. You should check out Paper Towns by John Green, it is set in Orlando and there is good bit in it about urban exploration and towns that don't exist.

  130. My favorite author of all time wrote an outstanding book about Urban Explorers - David Morrell, "Creepers". Check it out - it will NOT dissapoint!

  131. I'm going to second the Ransom Riggs recommendation. His photo essays of abandoned places are amazing.

    A lot of them are here: http://www.ransomriggs.com/photo-essays/

    And many more at http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/category/strange-geographies

  132. I love the new blog! Looking at your Urban Decay photos reminded me of some photos that can be seen at http://www.vladstudio.com/siberianwoodenhouses/ - they are of Siberian wooden houses, and I always wonder about the people that lived in the houses.

    Keep up the blog and have a great day!

  133. and here i thought i was the only one fascinated by abandoned places! im dying to get inside my old elementary school building! its been shut down for10-12 years and just to be able to go in and LOOK around inside it and see what its become would be so awesome!

  134. I don't think I've ever explored any abandoned buildings. Mostly because as soon as something becomes abandoned here, they board it up and put up razor wire.
    Anyways, this is my favourite abandoned building in my city. They're going to start developing it soon as loft condos so I was trying to take photos before that happened.

  135. when I was young, stupid and dating, I dated military guys who were stationed at the local shipyard. There's an abandoned prison there that we used to go wandering through.. *scary* place!

  136. I just found this today I dunno if you've already seen it but I thought I would share http://www.darkroastedblend.com/2008/02/abandoned-places.html

  137. Do you know there's an abandoned theme park near Berlin?

    It used to be known as "the Disney Land of the DDR", now it's just an overgrown place with large plastic dinosaurs and a ferris wheel that still works:


    Apparently, during the 90s, it was bought by someone who ran it into the ground and then used the rides to smuggle drugs.

  138. It's my life's ambition to go to Pripyat. That photo made me cry.

    I love your blog, just wanted to let you know!

  139. As a teenager, it was popular to go to the closed down mental institution called "Fairview" in Salem, OR.



    We would go in the late evening to explore and dodge the security guards on patrol, hide in brambles and brush and ultimately get scared out of our wits.

    The place is definitely creepy when you consider its history of abuse and eugenics.

    A few months ago some teen burned down a building there and I think they are finally going to do something with the land.

  140. We visited the Sloss Furnaces in Alabama and while they are a maintained historical sight they diffinately fit right in with the decaying buildings that are mentioned here. I got a very eery feeling walking amongst the ruins and I imagine it must have been a hot messy place in its prime. If you get out that way , they really are amazing to see.

  141. I haven't gone through all the comments so someone may have already you linked you to photos of "Battleship Island", an abandoned metropolis off the coast of Japan.
    This guy tried doing recreational trespassing there and got some pretty cool/creepy photos:

    P.S. I am a loyal reader of Cakewrecks, and JUST discovered EPBOT...you are too awesome for managing not just one, but TWO blogs!

  142. I don't know if anyone has posted this website yet, but it's an awesome database of urban exploration locations all over the world. I love looking through all the photos! Kitsault, British Columbia is an absolutely fascinating place! Look it up on this site. http://www.uer.ca/

  143. I regret not taking any photos of it but I have an urban explorer friend who took me down a near-by storm drain this spring. We had to wade through a hip-dip, glacial run off stream to get in but once inside the tunnel was filled with graffiti dating back to the 50s. As we descended down the tunnel the graffiti petered out but what was left was fascinating - only left by the bravest explorers.

  144. There is a great book by Martin Cruz Smith(He wrote Gorky Park)called Wolves Eat Dogs. It's set in Pripyat, and talks about the Chernobyl incident. Very cool for some insight to the imagery.

  145. If you ever happen to be in Chicago again there are a ton of old art-deco style theaters here. My favorite (because I live next to it) is the Music Box on Southport Ave.


  146. A great website with amazing photographs of abandoned theatres is Julia Solis's Stages of Decay (http://www.stagesofdecay.com/). She has a book coming out in the spring too!

  147. I once climbed a chain-link fence to get into an abandoned mental institution overnight on Halloween. One of the creepiest places I'd ever been in. It felt like I was being watched the whole time.(shudder)


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