Category Archives: Urban Decay

South Park Changes

The Port of Seattle owns a stretch of land that was once private residences. It’s referred to Pier 117, but there is no pier and the small green space they created was mainly for a large rain garden to keep street runoff out of the Duwamish River.  The black and white image, in the foreground, was where two, ramshackle, abandoned houses were located. I have a photo of them somewhere in my archives.  They ( the Port) left the two cement pads that the houses were sitting on, for some reason. There is a walking path the length of this ‘park’.

Across the river is I think an abandoned factory, perhaps the old Kenworth plant. Not totally sure. Again, this is the oldest EPA Superfund site in the US.

Across the street from the park is Coffee Umbria, a coffee roaster, etc. Apparently razor wire is needed to protect the business. This particular section of South Park is pretty sketchy, so I understand. I am always on guard and don’t stay in the area very long when I shoot there.

Walking the RR Tracks


Location: Rail road tracks that run parallel to Airport Way So. in Georgetown , Seattle. There’s a blast of steam in the middle of the image coming from a  small industrial building. Downtown Seattle in the distance.

More of the graffiti to follow in future posts.

Duwamish Access VII

After getting past a No Trespassing sign and fence I was able to get a closer look at this closed pedestrian pier and dock. In the background of one of the images you can see the West Seattle high-rise bridge. This bridge was a replacement for a drawbridge that was hit by a ship back in the 1980’s, I believe.

Update: House on the Hill

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.

Rummaging around on a Sunday

Rummaging around the South Park neighborhood of Seattle on a Sunday morning.

West Seattle Vanished

West Seattle actually had a working flour mill, Stone Ground Mills. The mill produced Stone Buhr Flour, which we have used for years. The mill* is located at 26th and Yancy St., adjacent to what is now Nucor Steel. This area is technically known as Youngstown ( or North Delridge Area). The Steel mill was originally named Bethlehem Steel, one of the many owned by this large corporation years and  years ago. Nucor Steel produces mostly rebar these days.

Here is a link to a thread which has additional photos of Stone Ground Mill. Stone Buhr Flour is still a viable product, I think. I haven’t been by the site since I took these photos, but according to the link above, it was there in 2010, which is about when I was tramping around the site (probably before the year on the watermark). The building was in bad shape 7 years ago, so I would suspect it is either gone now or …….?

*The mill is now located in Kent, Washington, approximately 10 miles south of Seattle.



House on the Hill: Update

In March of 2016 I posted a couple of photos of an abandoned house in the South Park neighborhood of South Seattle, near where I live. I resisted the location this past week and you can see the ‘changes’ that have taken place in less than a year. I couldn’t get in the house in March as it had about 3-4 feet of debris in each room-who knows what was in that mess? Now, the house has suffered a major fire ( arson, most likely) and it is mostly a charred ruin. The lot it sits on has been cleaned of dead cars and all sorts of other trash and is now barricaded off with huge cement blocks and cable. At one time this house had a great territorial view and was probably someones pride and joy.

In Distress

Gowanus Canal: Two ways of looking at the Superfund Site.

The Gowanus Canal can be a very picturesque place or,  depending on the light and your vantage point, it can be a pretty sketchy place with an aroma you will never forget.

Shining a Light

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.fullsizeoutput_2646


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