Thursday, August 10, 2006

Shattered windows on a quiet street


There's a building on a quiet street near where I go to donate blood plasma. It used to be a factory, and is now partially occupied by an indoor volleyball venue. The majority of the building has been left to rot, as you can see here.

I pass by this decaying hulk at least once or twice a month, and every time I do, I think that I ought to return here with a camera to capture its decline. I have a thing for ruined architecture. The castoffs of urban life seem to tell poignant stories of better times, of people and experiences that no longer exist. I often wonder what they would tell us if they could speak, what lessons they would share with those of us too busy to stop by as we rush off to another appointment.

So last week, as I cycled to my appointment with the dreaded needle, I realized I had a bit of extra time and my camera was loaded in my bike bag. So I stopped and thought I'd grab some images of this otherwise forgotten piece of architecture.

As I clicked away, it slowly dawned on me that the real story wasn't simply the broken windows or the weeds growing out of the brickwork. The morning sun shining through the trees and reflecting off the bricks told me another story: that inspiration exists even here.

There's a reason this old building still stands. Perhaps it is to remind us that we need to look deeper into the wrinkles of our existence and realize that even an old, broken-down building can be captivating in its own way.

Your turn: Have you come across urban ruins that inspire? Why do they inspire us?

12 comments:

Wordnerd said...

I don't know about other folks, but shots of urban decay make me look back to what the area used to be, when it was the hub of activity in another era. Then they make me look forward, as I think what a little 'lipstick & rouge' would do.

Michael Manning said...

Hi, Carmi: There is a book I checked out in the Entertainment section of a bookstore that contains a collection of abandoned Drive-In Movie Theaters and yet another with old abandoned gas stations. This is an excellent topic you've chosen. Across from the university I graduated from in 1999 they have razed 4 blocks of tenaments. There is an old abandoned Arby's. I look forward to it's demise, as this is where a friend of mine's sister was abducted and never found. So, while I love the renewal of abandoned buildings with fascinating architecture, this is but one example of a building I wsh would be removed to perhaps help a grieving family suffer a bit less.

Karen said...

Carmi, you're amazing. Or maybe I should say your eye is amazing. You made something that perhaps looked like an eyesore, look terrific! Outstanding.

I love old signs. I once pulled off the interstate to take a photo of a very old coffee shop sign. That's probably the closest I've ever been to what you describe.

Hope you're having a great day!

kenju said...

I don't know that any have inspired me. I know that they have saddened me, and most of the time I wish they would be torn down quickly, instead of being allowed to rot further.

Jennifer said...

I like how you can see a cat and a keyhole in the broken glass :)

~A~ said...

At least for me they give me hope that if you're run down and broken, maybe something cool will be remodeled.

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

I am part of hashing group (drinkers with a running problem) and we had a beer stop in a run down building that used to be a brewery. Like many old buildings in Chicago, it is now a condo. There was a grain silo that became part of the structure, so that's actually kind of cool.

Jennifer said...

Carmi, I have a thing for old, broken down ruins as well :) I have several pictures that I took back when I was in high school of an old church building...and there are several old houses around here that I would love to photograph. I enjoy looking at the ghostly ruins and seeing the past in them :) I need to find my pictures. They ought to be around here somewhere...they're nowhere as nice as yours, though :)

Sandy J said...

I think it inspire us because of the stories that lie within the ruins. If only they could talk. Sigh.

I love history.

keda said...

we see so many ruins here. both ancient and modern. i have always been inspired by old buildings. starting as a child playing in the gun shelters on the english/cornish coastline during the 2nd world war. then at the castle in falmouth. i would run about imaging how i would live there.
just last week my chilkdren when we climbed u to the old castle at assos the first thing they said was "hooray i'm going to sleep over here and make you some tea here. come and sit."
even now every abandoned building i see potential. i see something that can be renovated or i think of new space that could be created.
lovely picture carmi. and nice memories for me.

Leah said...

You have a good eye Carmi. Its true, a picture is worth a thousand words.
I have taken some picture sof an old lamp post and a wooden bench, an old tree.
I have never thought of it the way you did in your post...now I think ...I should.

h&b said...

I love it.
Reminds me of my former life in inner city Melbourne. This building is a dead-ringer.