October 29, 2004

Modern Ruins

One thing the Reno/Tahoe/Carson area lacks is some good ruins. In fact, aside from a few ghost towns, the whole western US has a shocking dearth of ruins. But around here in particular, when a building has outlived itself, it’s actually torn down instead of being left to rot. Even if it’s an historic building, like the Mapes in Reno or the old V&T Roundhouse here in Carson, they’ll tear it down and leave an empty lot rather than leave it abandoned. The best chance for finding ruins around here is up in Virginia City where there are a few abandoned houses. But even up there everything’s made of wood and it falls down before too long.

That’s why every so often I find myself getting sucked into sites devoted to East Coast ruins. I never mean for it to happen, I’ll just be following a harmless link, and before I know it I’m clicking from one site to the next, having completely lost track of whatever I was doing before. The fascination started years ago with the site modern-ruins.com, although when I look at it now I don’t think it’s been updated since I found it years ago. Then I found out about the Buffalo Central Terminal, and I couldn’t believe such a great building could just be left to rot like that. And then I discovered Forgotten NY. It’s about the New York City less travelled, the parts of the city that have been left behind while everything else grew up around them. A lot of it is old signs on buildings, and old street lamps that haven’t been replaced. But today I was cruising around and I found the Rossville Boatyard. This apparently is where New York discards boats when they’re finished with them. Dozens and dozens of rotting holds, some of them nothing more than a few ribs sticking out of the sand. From that page I was led to other sites with pictures of the Boatyard, like Andrew here who explains how he was out taking pictures and got stuck in the mud with the tide coming in, and counts himself lucky to have escaped. And that page led to Andrew’s whole Exploring NYC site, where you could get lost for days. Another link went to Shaun O’Boyle’s Boatyard pages, and that led me to his Modern Ruins page with tons of photo galleries. And that in turn led me to Bannerman’s Castle on the Hudson River, and from there to the Hudson Valley Ruins site. If I don’t stop following these links I’m going to be in serious trouble. This is too much of a time-waster, and I’ve seen whole afternoons disappear chasing links like this.

So why can’t we have any magnificent ruins like these out West? I started up a page of abandoned buildings in Carson City, but most of them have been torn down or renovated already. Where’s the fun in that? And the only abandoned buildings left in Virginia City are rickety little shacks. What we need is a good spooky castle that nobody’s lived in for years. But I guess spooky castles aren’t welcome here.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Christopher Baus says:

    I grew up in rural Upstate NY near Buffalo. Jamestown to be exact. It is depressing to watch entire cities fall into disrepair. I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to go into the Vaudeville era Theater which had been converted to a Movie Theater in the 30s and remove the ancient RCA speakers.

    Most people don’t realize the triangle between Buffalo, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh was one of the most properous in the country pre-depression, and has some amazing achiectecture scattered throughout. Those turn of the (previous) century aristocrats new how to spend money the right way. The area never recovered from the depression.

    These buildings would be treasures out here, but people see no value in them back east. It is bummer really.

    Posted October 29, 2004 @ 6:11 pm
  2. Smoove D says:

    I grew up in Jamestown as well. A friend of mine who runs a photoblog, J., asked me to shoot a few photos of ruins in the area over Christmas. They are posted here: http://unfocusedrestlesscitizens.blogspot.com/2004/12/salvage.html

    I did not go inside, since it was about 9 degrees and just taking photos of the facades nearly froze me to death.

    Posted January 8, 2005 @ 2:14 pm

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