Awash in Red

Book!

Over the past year Christina and I have been working very hard on the creation of a coffee-table book with Skyhorse Publishing. This week the fruits of those labors have finally begun to arrive back from the printer, and are being prepped for sale. Titled "Antiquity Echoes" (the same as our website), the book contains a collection of stories about abandoned locations that run the gambit from overgrown asylums to decaying malls. You will not find ghost stories within, what we provide instead is an insightful celebration of the ephemeral beauty which can only be found in places left forgotten. Furthermore, we really wanted to do something different with the opportunity Skyhorse had given us, so we went about integrating original videos into the book. At the end of most chapters you will find a QR code, when scanned with your smartphone or tablet, it will play a short cinematic film of the location which you just read about. Music for these videos was supplied by Worrytrain, an artist who we have long been fans of. The haunting soundtrack they provided was far more than we ever hoped for, and gives the entire book an air of dark mystery. We are beyond proud of what the end result is, and we hope everyone enjoys what we were able to create. The book will be on sale in book stores nationally beginning September 15th, however pre-orders are currently available on Amazon.

You can click the image to visit the page on Amazon.

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*Double-posted in the AbandonedPlaces community*



Painted upon the cold tile walls of a subterranean morgue, located in the dark recesses which form the under-structure of an abandoned asylum, can be found a Latin proverb just barely legible on the decaying wall adjacent to the autopsy table. “Let conversation cease. Let laughter flee. This is the place where death delights to help the living.“ Across the property a lavender curtain billows as wind enters in over jagged edges of shattered glass which once comprised a large bay window. Overlooking a landing no one uses. Above an empty lobby. Abutted by hallways echoing the sounds of nothing.

It's mostly all gone now, plowed under by a crew of workers as part of a plan to clean up the immediate area surrounding the still-functioning sections of the Pilgrim Hospital Center. When such places are done away with, especially when care is not properly taken, we often run a real risk of losing our history along with the debris. Like it was with the Hotel Sterling - This place stood but for a relatively brief moment in a state of abandonment, before the plows eventually came to remove it from existence. Unfortunately it is in these short windows of disuse that we find history often becomes most tangible, evoking emotions and interest in those who gaze upon its forgotten form.

This was what remained of the vacated portions of Pilgrim State Hospital in Long Island, NY. What was at one time the largest psychiatric hospital on the globe, with a peak patient population of almost 14,000, came to be little more than a broken collection of buildings dotting the grounds of what is still a partially-operational facility. Undone by modern medicine, and overrun by nature, these massive brick corpses serve as eerie reminders to medicine's darker times. Like so many of the patients who traversed their now empty corridors, these buildings were given numbers to serve as their names. Of all the numbers on these grounds, none holds a history so dark, or so tragic, as the looming edifice named “23”. It was here, on the uppermost floor, in an operating room overlooking the whole of the campus, that prefrontal lobotomies were preformed. Altering the lives of over 1,500 patients from the 1940's through the 1950's.

The operating room had been stripped by scrappers long ago, and weathered by the many years it has sat without use. Its barren and blackened walls enclosed an operating room floor which had come to be flooded with rainwater. Fogged windows cast a mirror image across the wet surface of the floor, the reflection periodically disturbed by small ripples as water dripped off ceiling beams. It's a depressing place, and through the unrelenting forces of time it has finally come to reflect so physically.

The construction of Pilgrim began in 1929, due primarily to severe overcrowding in city asylums. It's design was one of a “farm colony”, an institution based around the ideals of living and working in the open space of what was then rural Long Island. As the title implies; patients were to farm crops and work the land as part of their treatment. Opening October 1, 1931 on some 1,000 acres, Pilgrim housed it's own power plant, post office, police station, fire department, cemetery, water source, and a neighborhood of housing for the doctors and administrative personnel. Most all of which were connected under the sprawl via an intricate system of tunnels and passageways.

As the population grew at Pilgrim, the campus itself began to spread out. In the end the massive property was reaching into four separate townships of Suffolk county; Babylon, Huntington, Islip, and Smithtown. WWII saw several buildings taken for use by the War Department and utilized to aid traumatized soldiers. After the war the population surged at Pilgrim State Hospital, at its highest point the campus saw use by almost 18,000 people; 13,875 of them patients, and approximately 4,000 employees. This massive populous heralded the end of the farm-colony concept, as it withered away in lieu of the more modern medical practices which were gaining traction nationwide, such as electroshock treatments and the previously mentioned prefrontal lobotomies.

Even during the most affluent years for the use of lobotomies, the practice was always seen as controversial. In some documented cases, typically with patients who were severely violent or erratic, the operation had a “calming effect”, making the post-operation patient “quieter”. However in countless other situations it removed the very essence of the individual who received treatment, in effect dehumanizing them. Of course, when we look back with generations of medical advancement between then and now, we see this practice as primitive in form and barbaric in concept. To be in the shoes of a doctor in that time though, would surely reveal a completely different perspective on the matter. You would see thousands of people incapable of keeping from harming themselves and others. You would look to medicine for the answers, only to be greeted with a complete lack of understanding as to the cause and cure for their condition. You hear that a simple operation, hailing from Europe, has the ability to calm those who are unreachable by any other means. The answer would seem clear to you, a miracle treatment.

Time marches on. As the practice becomes mainstream in the United States, and is instated in hospitals nationwide, it becomes more and more typical to use as a crutch than as a cure. Situations obviously vary dramatically from case to case, but somewhere along the line doctors surely must have seen all the moral issues contained in such a method of treatment. Perhaps these doctors were doing the best they could given the tools at hand, but I have to think that surely they knew, if perhaps only one some base level, that what they were doing was wrong.

As mentioned - Pilgrim State Hospital still stands today, but it now goes by the title of Pilgrim Psychiatric Center. Though it has a much different anatomy than it once had. It operates out of about a third of the campus, The farm-colony was sold, renovated, and in 1974 became the Suffolk County Community College's Western Campus. A large portion of the unused acreage was also secured by a developer, who has slowly been leveling buildings. There are still numerous abandoned edifices which endure on the old property, but for how long is anyone’s guess.




Building 23 (now razed) is where most all of the lobotomy procedures took place.

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Awash in Red

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Christina and I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed for the site "No Such Thing As Was". It was a lovely exchange,
and proved to be a bit more intimate than initially anticipated,in a good way though.
The end result delves pretty deep into our roots in documenting abandoned locations, with a heavy emphasis on "why?"

Click the image to go read the piece...

NSTAW AE
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Friendly Feral

We made anew friend today while out filming an abandoned train station. He was very friendly, but not into being pet... he also had one and a half eyes.
Grabbed this shot with my phone.
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Awash in Red

Mallrats

Christina and I recently drove many (many) miles to document a massive abandoned shopping mall.
I'm not disclosing any details yet, but consider the following image a teaser of sorts...

Awash in Red

Greystone's Last Stand

*Double-posted in the AbandonedpLaces community*

Hello all. It has been ages since I've posted here, or on my own personal journal for that matter. So long in fact that I am just now getting over being flustered by the LJ redesign. I think I dig it, but change scares me...

Anyway, the reason I haven't been posting terribly much is NOT because I lack material to share (I'm sitting on top of so many locations that I'm stoked to post), but because Christina and I have taken on an admittedly daunting cause. We've aligned ourselves with the organization Preserve Gravestone, in an attempt to stall or change the state of New Jersey's plans to demolish the abandoned Greystone Park Psychiatric Center in Parsippany, NJ. We knew of no better way to get the public's attention than through film, so we set out to create a short public-awareness piece. It very quickly snowballed into a full fledged film, forcing us to learn a boatload of stuff about filming, making us purchase some new equipment, and stealing countless hours of our sleep. Christina and I have been looking to grow for a while now, to take our passion for Urban Exploration and do something different, it just wasn't until recently that we saw the opportunity to do so. To say the project and the learning curve involved has been difficult would be a terrible understatement, however it has also been an incredibly rewarding and and often humbling experience. We've just now wrapped up and went live with a 15-minute "extended preview", so I figured it was a good time to announce the film here, in this community.

It seems like a natural progression for us really - In a way its melded my writing, Christina's filming, and our collective editing and style into a singular piece. We truly hope this film will help change the states course, but obviously that's wishful thinking. Still, the video has garnered 1,500 views over just it's first weekend, without really being posted anywhere (looking to get media coverage shortly, which should really help) so we know people are looking and care. That all being said, consider this post my formal return to LJ.

~Rusty

Below I have embedded the video, but before that I will post the video's description off of the YouTube channel.
*Video narrated by Mark Moran of Weird NJ

The sprawling Greystone Psychiatric Hospital sits on a hilltop in Parsippany, NJ. It was constructed there well over 100 years ago, opening in the summer of 1876. At the time of its completion Greystone was the largest singular building in the entire country, and held that title until the Pentagon was completed in 1943. The enormous facility was constructed following the Kirkbride plan. Named after Thomas Story Kirkbride, it was a model of psychiatric hospital that featured large wings of wards stretching outward from a center point, which was often the main entrance and administrative area of the facility. Though often seen as eerie places, these old asylums were actually built with the best of intentions for the patients. Yes the sprawl of these wings may seem imposing to an outsider, but they were purposely created narrow to allow patients constant window views and plentiful sunlight. Since the wards were indeed slender in design, they had to make them exceedingly long in order to allow adequate room for the thousands of people living here. Today the grand old hospital stands abandoned, as it has been since 2008.

The state of New Jersey now seeks to demolish this majestic building to create open space. This is to be done at an estimated expense of some $50 million in taxpayer funding. Several groups have already come forward and presented plans to the state, all with great interest in preserving and reusing the entirety of the old Greystone Psychiatric Hospital, and the funding to back their projects. However, for reasons that still have yet to be properly explained, the state has chosen to forgo all of the proposed plans for redevelopment, and instead wish to raze the entirety of the building.

If we lose Greystone it will not only be a terrible blow to national history, architectural preservation, and environmental accountability, but it will be a great disservice to future generations who will never be allowed to experience this monument to architectural engineering and psychiatric medicine. "Greystone's Last Stand" will follow the story of Greystone Psychiatric Hospital as it unfolds.

Please, if you like what we're creating here, share it around. We want word to spread about the state's plan to level the old hospital. The demolition of Greystone will be an event universally regretted by future generations. What we have, sitting abandoned in New Jersey, is a historical gem. Something to be celebrated, not destroyed.

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Awash in Red

Hello?

So... did LiveJournal take a huge nosedive in active population, or is it just me?
Seriously, it's always been sparse, populated by LJ diehards, but now it feels like a ghost town.

~Rusty
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Awash in Red

Greystone's Last Stand

Christina and I are very adamant about architectural preservation, and we firmly believe that there is simply no greater monument to a time in history than the buildings which they leave behind. Due to this, we are currently collaborating with the organization Preserve Greystone to create "Greystone's Last Stand". It is a film which will document these turbulent times for Greystone Psychiatric Hospital, and in the end, its final fate.

If we lose Greystone, it will not only be a terrible blow to national history, architectural preservation, and environmental accountability, but it will be a great disservice to future generations who will never be allowed to experience this monument to architectural engineering and psychiatric medicine.

Please, if you like what we're creating here, share it around. We want word to spread about the state's plan to level the old hospital. The demolition of Greystone will be an event universally regretted by future generations. What we have sitting abandoned in New Jersey is a historical gem. Something to be celebrated, not destroyed.

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