No introduction needed. Just a gorgeous space with lots of great details- in London, of course. Can’t wait to go there! From HERE
Every now and then I’ll come across an editorial that is so on point with my aesthetic that it almost hurts to look. The clothes, the stockings, the makeup, the hair, the dummy. I’m drooling, I’m crying, I’m going online to buy white face paint so I can look like this… perfection!
(‘Mechanical Dolls’ Vogue Italia October 2011)
After spending an inordinate amount of time on fashion editorial websites last week, I found a fantastic number of drool worthy shoots. This Kate Moss spread is from March.
Taxidermy, lace, flowers, urinals, antique wallpaper, Gothic overtones. This must be what love feels like.
Good Kate, Bad Kate W Magazine, March 2012
After the fire on Front and Girard last week I went down and took some photos of the remains. Before it burned I had wanted to shoot this building, I always got great views of it while taking the El home everyday. The warehouse was still smoldering when I arrived in the evening, although very little of the walls remained.
This building was just another example of how dangerous the city’s blight can be… I wonder what they’re going to do with all those bricks?
I often wonder where the source of my aesthetic taste comes from, namely my love of urban decay and its beauty.
I went home for a visit the other day, and one of the answers became strikingly obvious. The city where I grew up, Bethlehem, is home to one of the grandest examples of urban decay- Bethlehem Steel.
The sprawling complex was home to America’s second largest steel producer, and has a fascinating history. They even discuss Bethlehem Steel in an episode of Mad Men! The land is now home to many revitalized areas, while some of the blighted buildings still remain. The steel stacks are an iconic part of the Southside’s history, and the point on Sand Island where the creek meets the river, giving you a perfect view is my favorite vantage point, well, ever.
Since most of the photos people usually take are of the overall landscape, I decided to show a few close-ups. I have plenty more for another time!
Bethlehem Steel Complex
The search for blight in Philadelphia is not a difficult one. In fact, it is pathetically easy to stumble upon beautiful abandoned structures while walking home from work, to a friend’s house, or while riding your bike to the coffee shop.
For years now, I’ve searched hungrily for these vantage points, framing them in my mind’s eye, only hoping to be able to return later to photograph them. Sometimes, as serendipity would have it, I stumble upon the most fascinating blight while on my way to photograph something else altogether. Such was the case with the old Rieger and Gretz brewery on Oxford and Germantown.
After researching the building, I discovered that it was an old brewery founded in 1881. During this time in Philadelphia the city was home to a whopping 94 breweries! What was even more fascinating was that the company closed its doors in 1961. Has this building really been abandoned for 51 years?
I was absolutely taken aback by the stone workmanship of this facade. They really don’t make ’em like this anymore…
Rieger and Gretz Brewery – Oxford and Germantown Avenue
While I was out shooting the Thomas W. Buck Hosiery fire a few weeks ago, I also managed to squeeze in some photos of the John Bromley Carpet Mill right across the street. This is another blighted warehouse in Fishtown, steps from the El.
The architecture of this building is a lot more uniform than the Buck, with repetition probably being its most attractive quality. I love seeing rows and rows of windows reaching upwards, especially when a shot makes them seem endless.
I thought it was hilarious and slightly worrisome that this abandoned building had a Direct TV satellite dish attached to one of the railings, along with barbed wire and a wooden cross.
You can see where part of the window is about to fall off in this picture.
A view of the front, as seen from an opening in the El tracks.
Some of the details of this building I found particularly interesting were the rust streaks in the upper windows, the plaster sides which had crumbled to reveal the brick underneath, the intermittent stars, the corbels and mantels of the windows…
The decay is utterly apparent and the face of the building has a haunting beauty- another fine example of the long abandoned factories of industry in Kensington.
John Bromley Carpet Mill – York & Jasper Streets
On Sunday night there was a five alarm blaze that ripped through a warehouse in my neighborhood. It was somewhat terrifying, especially with my neighbors screaming about it at 4 in the morning. Sadly, two firefighters perished and when I went to shoot some photos at 5 in the evening, the fire was still being hosed by trucks.
This is just one of the horrific downsides to the blight in Philadelphia which I have encountered since living here. The warehouse, which was once home to Thomas W. Buck Hosiery, was a disaster waiting to happen. Abandoned, deteriorating, and owned by people who owed thousands in back taxes. These ingredients seem to often add up to fires in the dark of night.
The problem with blight, no matter how fascinating, or strangely beautiful, is that eventually something needs to happen with the building. These structures aren’t meant to stand forever, and someone’s got to pick up the tab for their destruction.
Many of the photos I took are nearly apocalyptic. Smoke was rising through the decrepit structure with an overwhelming smell of burning wood in the air. Bricks scattered, with the metal frames of the windows mangled from the intense heat.
I am starting a new photo project called Decay: Philadelphia. It will highlight the blight and decay of the city. I will probably never be able to really capture it all, there is just too God damn much… but I thought this was an interesting way to start.
Thomas W. Buck Hosiery Warehouse- York & Jasper Streets
(Photos Property of Sincerely, Thompson)