March 30. 2009 -
PS 186 is a somber ruin looming over a busy Harlem street. Opened in 1903, this elementary school was shuttered in 1975. According to a 2005 WNYC piece "it’s been thirty years since PS 186 in Harlem was closed because of its dilapidated conditions. The neglected building has been rotting away ever since." The New York Landmarks Conservancy describes PS 186's current condition as "poor" - inside the building, trees have taken root, floors are collapsing, birds have found refuge, and yet the auditorium is filled with upright chairs. A 2007 New York Sun article promised that "development plans are emerging" but, unlike the work being done at nearby PS 90, there is no evidence that PS 186 is being redeveloped by its owners, the ML Wilson Boys and Girls Club, despite a promise made in 1986 to create a community center in the space. Like the abandoned Renaissance Ballroom nearby, PS 186 is an eloquent reminder of the Harlem's long and sometimes troubled history.
Additional images by photographers on this expedition are at Bluejake and Impose Magazine.
March 12, 2009 -
In Brooklyn, even the hidden world under the Coney Island Boardwalk isn't safe from development. Recent repair work near Shoot the Freak has revealed and destroyed the Freak's domain. Luckily, there are still forgotten areas further down the boardwalk, stretches of quiet land that are home to tunnel lairs, foxholes, abandoned building entrances, discarded sharks, guard-doves, love nests and campsites. It is, as Lawrence Ferlinghetti wrote in A Coney Island of the Mind -"a kissproof world of plastic toilet seats tampax and taxis/[...]and all the other fatal shorn-up fragments/of the immigrants dream come too true/and mislaid/among the sunbathers."
On a personal note - these photos are dedicated to Robert Guskind, whose encouragement and support, beginning with a single photo in 2006, helped inspire me to document Brooklyn's entire industrial waterfront. He was a generous friend who advised me in creating this website, and then wrote a story about nearly every photo essay on it for Curbed and The Gowanus Lounge, bringing thousands of people to my photographs. I was just one of the many people in the Brooklyn community that he supported and encouraged. Robert loved Coney Island and I had looked forward to sharing these photos with him this week, on the 2nd anniversary of this website. Robert passed away unexpectedly last week.