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FRIDAY SURPRISE: The motherlode of all barn finds.


There was a time when automobile dealers were in their business because they loved cars. When I was a kid, for instance, the local Chevy dealer ordered in a new Corvette every year, even though he rarely sold one in our little farm/logging town. He just loved cars, and liked having one in the showroom. (They usually ended up going home with him, which was likely his plan all along.)

Imagine if your town had a dealer like that, only on a larger scale. A dealer who loved his cars, who didn't mind having a bunch of them hanging around -- even if they were brand new and hadn't sold. Imagine that all those cars were squirreled away when he retired, left to gather dust with only a few miles on their odometers. Wouldn't you like to find this cache?

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Photo courtesy of www.messynessychic.com

Well, just head up to Pierce, Nebraska on the 28th of next month. There you'll be able to attend the auction of Lambrecht Chevrolet, a dealership that operated from 1946 to 1996. When the Lambrechts retired they simply closed up the shop and left 500 cars behind, many of them brand new models from the 1950s and '60s.

Go read the article over at Messy Nessy. (Then see what airlines fly to Nebraska. You know you want to.)

-=[ Grant ]=-
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FRIDAY SURPRISE: What secret does 5 Beekman Street hold?


Folks on the east coast are lucky. There have been enough people in one area long enough that there's a lot of abandoned and forgotten stuff hanging around, just waiting to be discovered. Don't get me wrong, we have abandoned and forgotten stuff out here in the Pacific Northwest, but ours isn't normally as grand, intriguing, or old. Besides, if you've seen the inside of one abandoned mine, you've seen 'em all.

P6030028

Well, except the one that was filled with water, of course.

Back to 5 Beekman Street, in the heart of Manhattan. Seems that this old building is often called "The Palace of Beekman Street", owing to its castle-like architecture and towers. The building is complete empty, and large parts of it have been sealed off for more than 70 years.

Few people know about its beautiful, stunning secret - but
a location scout in NY who writes a blog called (what else?) "Scouting New York" does. He's (she’s?) got a great writeup on the blog, complete with extensive pictures, about the Palace. You won't believe what's sitting there, empty, while people on the street remain oblivious.

It's slated to be turned into a hotel, and if I ever actually wanted to stay in Manhattan (and could afford it), I'd stay in that building.

Head over to Scouting New York and check it out, along with some of the other finds chronicled therein. Neat stuff.
-=[ Grant ]=-
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FRIDAY SURPRISE: I’m feeling abandoned again.


It occurs to me that I haven't done a recent post about one of my favorite topics: abandoned places. For those just tuning in, I love to explore places that are no longer in use; places that have been left to rot away for whatever reason. Old houses, mine shafts, factories, military installations, railroad trestles - you name it, I like wandering around in them.

Sadly there aren't many of those kinds of places in my geographical area. I salve my disappointment by looking at other people's pictures of their wanderings, and today I'm
linking to the work of Amy Heiden, courtesy of Fstoppers. The bowling alley is my favorite.

Check 'em out, but
be sure to visit her website - she’s got a lot more where those came from!

-=[ Grant ]=-
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FRIDAY SURPRISE: Going for the Gold. Or not.


I haven't done anything on abandoned structures lately, but when today's subject popped up...well, it's perfect.

Have you ever wondered what happens to the grounds of large events, like a World's Fair -- or, say, the Olympics? Sometimes, like Lake Placid, they continue to be useful. In other cases, like the site of the 2004 Games in Athens, they simply stand as a monument to wasted resources.

In eight short years, the site of the 2004 Olympic Games has gone from showplace to eyesore. The Greeks spent tons of money to build a very impressive venue, and today it stands empty -- a tribute to the human desire to outdo our neighbors.

How many other Olympic sites around the world have suffered the same fate? I don't know, but I have a hunch that Athens isn’t alone.

Head on over to the NYTimes Lens Blog, where
they've showcased the Athens pictures of Jamie McGregor Smith. Smith has a reputation for photographing abandonment on a large scale, and his pictures of the Greek mistake are superb. The Blog has links to his website, where you can view his other projects -- including some great pictures of our own gigantic and growing abandonment, Detroit.

Excellent images!

-=[ Grant ]=-
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Friday Surprise: Why didn't I find this earlier?


When I talked about tools a couple of weeks ago, a regular reader emailed and said that his father had owned a service station in the 1960s too. He asked what brand, and I told him Texaco. He then forwarded a link to this shot of an abandoned Texaco station somewhere in North Dakota.



The picture is hosted at a
site called shorpy.com, and that link encouraged me to spend the next hour looking at the historic photos that are Shorpy's raison d'être. Shorpy is sort of a cross between a photo album and a blog, and with thousands of photos in their archive I’m going to need a lot more spare time! All pics have a small preview like this one, and clicking on any of them brings up a high-res version. Neat!

Very cool site that has become one of the few on my "daily read" bookmark.

-=[ Grant ]=-
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FRIDAY SURPRISE: "Your hand is staining my window."


Very busy this week, and I had a couple of articles I wanted to write but just didn't have the time. So today I'm just going to link to a site featuring images of abandoned hospitals and asylums across the country.

Creepy stuff.

(Bonus points for the person who can identify the quote in the title line without Googling it.)

-=[ Grant ]=-
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FRIDAY SURPRISE: The lady in the lake.


Ronald Reagan was halfway through his first term as President when I took my first trip east of the Rockies. It was also my first trip via airliner, and though I'd flown quite a bit in small aircraft the view from 30,000+ feet was new to me. I was heading to Rochester, NY. Traveling from Portland to Rochester on Delta Airlines entailed a stop in Detroit, which also meant a trip over Lake Michigan.

If you've followed the story so far you'll deduce that I'd never seen any of the Great Lakes. Oh, I knew all about them; I'd studied geography in school. I knew that they were actually inland seas, that they had their own weather, that they were the largest group of freshwater bodies on earth. What I didn't know, or more correctly didn't fathom, was just how big they were.

As the plane crossed Lake Michigan I was struck by the fact that all I could see was water. I finally grasped the reality of the Great Lakes, and the stories I'd read about shipwrecks and lost souls suddenly became understandable. In that vast expanse of water, some of it nearly a thousand feet thick, it would be very easy to lose a vessel in one of the lake's infamous storms.

In 1898, that's what happened to the steamship L.R. Doty. She was carrying a load of corn destined for Ontario when a powerful storm armed with thirty-foot waves sent her to the lake floor. The 320 feet of cold, salt-free water that sat on top of her preserved her remains in almost perfect condition.

Those remains were just recently found, 112 years after her final trip.
Great story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; be sure to check out the photo gallery of the wreck.

-=[ Grant ]=-
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FRIDAY SURPRISE: I'd like a Meatball Marinara please. Oh, wait...


...wrong subway!

I found this some time ago, and thought it was an intriguing site in the growing "abandoned things" genre. It's not just about subways, either - photographer Shawn Dufour has lots of cool sites pictured: factories, hospitals, even a railroad yard.

Have a look at
abandonedsubwaytunnels.com


-=[ Grant ]=-
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FRIDAY SURPRISE: A shell of former glory.


I usually eat my breakfast in front of the computer. I check my personal email, look in at Twitter and Facebook, read George Ure's blog, look at all the blog feeds to which I subscribe, and maybe even check what's for sale on Craigslist.

One of the Facebook updates this morning was from
Rob Pincus, who is heading for Rochester (NY). That brought back memories, as in my former life I traveled to Rochester on an occasional basis, one time staying for the better part of two weeks. Astute readers will deduce that these trips had something to do with the Eastman Kodak Company (EKC, as it was known - Kodak was extremely fond of acronyms and abbreviations), and that deduction would be correct.

In the early- to mid-Eighties, which is when I visited, Kodak owned most of Rochester - and what they didn't, Xerox did. Kodak's facilities were huge even by Detroit standards, all based on sales of film and associated equipment and supplies. As digital photography eroded film's dominance, Kodak (which had been willfully dismissive of the digital threat throughout the period under discussion) saw their business decline precipitously.

Barely into the new century, Kodak was closing buildings at a rapid pace. They demolished a few, auctioned off some others, and sold what they felt they didn't need but which would still generate cash. One of the latter was a complex known as the Marketing Education Center, or - in EKC-speak - MEC.

MEC is where they held seminars, training sessions, and business meetings. Every time I went to Kodak, MEC is where I ended up. It was a gorgeous campus, looking more like a community college than a corporate office.

MEC sat next to the Genesee River, and featured a dining hall with floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out over the river and a placid meadow. The view from the tiered seating was so perfectly New England, regardless of the season, that visitors joked the windows were actually Duratrans - Kodak's trade name for large, backlit transparencies. The food was't bad, either!

This little trip down memory lane got me to wondering: whatever happened to MEC? As it turns out, pretty much nothing. Kodak cleared out and sold it for about $3.5 million to an investment concern in 2004, and it appears to be sitting vacant today.
The campus, with 120 acres and four buildings, is currently for sale at an asking price of only $9.9 million.

(In researching this, I came across the blog of a Rochester ex-pat whose family worked for EKC.
She chronicles the decline of George Eastman's once-great empire.)

-=[ Grant ]=-

P.S.: Speaking of acronyms...at one point Kodak decided to do some corporate reshuffling, and the technicians who serviced their large photofinishing and photocopying equipment were inexplicably transferred to the control of the newly renamed Consumer Equipment Service. At roughly the same time, those technicians were given the title of “Field Engineers.” The in-joke was that since they were now FEs, working for CES, that their corporate acronym was to be FECES. Upper management was not at all amused.
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FRIDAY SURPRISE: When in Rome...


My fascination with old and abandoned things often leads to dreams of great discoveries. Though I've been to a few abandoned places - all of which are pretty well known, at least locally - I'm handicapped by geography. Here in rural Oregon, there just aren't many such places.

There weren't enough people here to have produced a large urban/industrial base a century ago, our technological history doesn't go back much more than 175 years in any case, and we've never exactly been a hotbed of military activity. Thus my dreams of being the first (or, at least, one of the very few) to visit such a site remain elusive.

Other people are more fortunate. A British film crew just last year found the remains of the Aqua Traiana headwaters, the beginnings of a lost aqueduct that once supplied Rome with fresh water. It's beautiful and amazingly well preserved, and all lying below a pig pasture near the village of Manziana, just northwest of Rome.

What gets me is that they found it - in the best Indiana Jones style -
by discovering a hidden door in an abandoned church.

-=[ Grant ]=-
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FRIDAY SURPRISE: Motor City throws a rod.


The decline of Detroit fascinates me.

For many years I've wandered the Northwest visiting ghost towns and abandoned settlements, and always in the back of my mind are the unanswered questions: why did people leave? What was is like to live in a dying town? When did people finally figure out that their town was destined for the dust bin of history? Did it happen suddenly, or was it a slow, agonizing extinction?

These questions come to the forefront as I watch the continuing downfall of one of America's proudest cities.

I'm not saying that Detroit is going to disappear like, oh, Bourne (Oregon) did. It might, it might not. But it's clear that the city's contraction leaves much doubt about its future, and the glorious past of the former powerhouse remains to confront and confound the present residents.

There are lots of great galleries of decaying Detroit around the 'net (I"ve linked to one or two of them), and
Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre have produced some of the best.

-=[ Grant ]=-
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FRIDAY SURPRISE: Motor City Mildew.


I've featured a number of decay-chronicling websites, but this one is unique.
onlynDetroit.com doesn't just show the deterioration of a once-proud city, it gives the why and how of urban decay. In its many pages you'll learn the stories behind the landmarks, where they came from and how they happened to get where they are today. Along with the analysis is the occasional prescription for renewal, and a happy ending or two as some eyesores get refurbished and reopened.



The photography isn't of the same standards as some urban exploration sites, spelling errors abound, and the text sometimes describes scenes for which there are no pictures - but those are minor quibbles that only help prove that the whole is greater than the sum if its parts. onlynDetroit.com is obviously the work of people who have great affection for their city despite its flaws, and the same can be said of their site. A great place to kill some free time.

-=[ Grant ]=-
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FRIDAY SURPRISE: The Russians Aren't Coming! The Russians Aren't Coming!

Well, definitely not in these!

Owing to my unnatural fascination with old and abandoned things, I find the concept of an aircraft boneyard to be absolutely irresistible. The most famous of them is no doubt the
Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center outside of Tucson, but there are others.

The Russians
have such things, too, and they can be a fascinating glimpse into the "other side" of the Cold War.

-=[ Grant ]=-
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