‘Abandoned America: The Age of Consequences’2/4/2015
“Abandoned America” was featured recently on BookTV, piquing my interest in the history to be found in old, abandoned buildings. The book did not disappoint. Although the impact of the photographs themselves is great, the author/photographer has included much of the history of each of the 30 sites. The combination of photos and background information makes a fascinating read.
All sites are located in the Pennsylvania area, and the types of structures range from power plants to factories to schools to churches and hospitals. The author documented a shocking amount of material and equipment left behind in abandoned factories: the coat factory with many coats still hanging on racks, some in protective plastic; the yarn factory where yarn was still threaded in the machines; or the lace factory where workers were told the factory was closed mid-shift and equipment was just left as it was.
The book also documented the way these buildings were managed after closure. In many cases, “no maintenance” meant there was “demolition by neglect.” This was the case for the motorcycle business where many motorcycles ended up being scrapped after cave-ins exposed them to the elements for an extensive time. This also happened to many churches, schools and hospitals. Exposure and the rush to demolition meant a permanent loss of wonderful architectural features. Corruption and fraud also played a significant role in the loss of some sites where promises of redevelopment never materialized.
The varied stories and photos are memorable, and this book will become a prized part of my library.
Harriet Leitch retired to enjoy her grandchildren, garden, dogs, flute and to return to her love of books.