Category Archives: debris
I’ve posted, in the past five years, images of this house that has been abandoned for years in the South Park area of Seattle. I made a trip down there a couple of weeks ago and took these images. Since I last visited the house it has suffered through two arson/meth related fires.
While I was taking these images a small, wiry guy came up behind me and said ‘Hi’. Through our conversation, I learned he was the night watchman for the owner of the Marina and storage facilities along the Duwamish River. We talked for about 20 minutes. He was quite a character. He has lived in the area for years. He gave me a history of the house or as much as he knew. He witnessed both fires, one set by a person cooking up some meth on the second story wooden floor. The house is actually for sale, as a tear down of course. I tried walking in the house a few years back and the debris was waist high and probably a mine field of syringes; I stopped after a few feet and bailed out of the window I came in from, which I think was the kitchen in the back. Besides, I really didn’t know if there was someone living upstairs-addicts or homeless people.
So, for a little history that was shared with me:
After WWII the house was used as ‘transitional’ housing for Japanese Americans that were interned during the war. They transitioned from the camps to this house in an effort to reintegrate; most of the property they owned prior to internment was lost, sold or confiscated.
Sometime after that a couple bought the house and stayed in it for years. The couple were a bit eccentric, but one of their hobbies was coin collecting. Apparently they hid this collection ( valued in excess of $100,000 back in the 60’s-70’s) in a box somewhere in the house. The man died first, leaving his widow to deal with the house, which soon became too much for her as she aged. So, she moved out, but could not find the box of coins. As time passed, for reasons unknown to me, the house fell into disrepair and ultimately declined into a mess. The lady would return from time to time, looking for the box of coins, to no avail.
After the second fire, the people living in the area( like the night watchman-old timers) went in looking through the debris to see if the box of coins had burned, surfaced or whatever. They did find the box, but it was empty. It was assumed that one of the homeless people who had wandered in, had found the box, after the fire, and walked away with a pocketful of dreams.
A rich and tragic history for what was once one of the better homes, with quite a view, in South Park.
Location: Park Slope, Brooklyn. On a bright, sunny day the park lights were one, which made for an interesting glow. In the right, from the 3rd St. bridge in Gowanus Canal about three blocks from where our son and family live, is a view of the new, luxury apartments build right on the EPA Superfund site of Gowanus Canal. I’m not sure how the developer wrangled a green light to develop on this site, but since this is NYC, I would imagine some money exchanged hands and all was good. The Canal has been designated a Superfund site since 2007 and only the week I was visiting were they starting the first pilot debris removal from one section of the canal called “the turnaround ” adjacent to the Whole Foods store that just went in a few years ago ( that’s another story). What may look like an idyllic location in this image is actually a very toxic ( heavy metals, tar oil, etc) waterway which, on heavy rain days, raw, untreated sewage flows into. Then there is the smell, something you would never forget. On hot days the canal becomes this stagnant, heated cesspool that has an odor you would never forget. On this day it was pretty mild, but still can be shocking to non-residents walking through. I have read that the starting rents on the one bedroom apartments is $4500.00 per month! One more dynamic to consider: during Superstorm Sandy the area flooded. The water came up over the banks of the canal and ran uphill about one block, which would put the first floor apartments at risk in the event of another big storm. You can see some videos of Gowanus and the storm on YouTube. Very crazy.
Scanned from a 35mm print in 1970. Location: East Oakland, CA. A friend I was staying with had just remodeled her bathroom and had not yet disposed of some of the debris. I found this in her backyard and of course, was immediately thinking of a photo opportunity. Seems my interest in subject matter has not totally changed over the past 45 years :-).