Archive for May, 2011

Elevator Action

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Buffalo, Concrete, Industrial

So I managed to get out exploring one more time before summer. Nate thought he could get us into some grain elevators in Buffalo that actually had stairs to the top so I could climb too. I guess he was sort of right; apparently the permission we got was only to walk around the outside, not to go in, so the trip ended early with us getting chased out by the owners. At least it was something… maybe enough to last me until September.

I only ever knew of Pinkertons as something from history class, the union busting scabs. I wonder what they did here?

It’s a long way down!

Nate in action … just before the “oh shit! security!” moment

The ground floor, or what they let us see of it

In which ghost-Nate is beamed up by the sun gods

This isn’t the same place. This was some random factory we looked into on the way home and set off alarms at.

Ghost of the Blues

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Catskills, Concrete, Institutional

After a few pretty hopeless busts in a row, and still on edge from the end of the Tamarack, we gave up before dark and started looking for a campsite. Sure enough, right off exit 98 was a little resort we MISSED entirely! Of course we’d give it a chance when it’s just sitting here. As is typical in these parts, the front door was wide open, inviting us in.

The perfection of this place was astounding. It looked like it could have just closed last week, in places!

After seeing a few rooms like these, we decided not to even try the campsite, this would be where we’d stay (for free!) for the night.

But the farther we got from the front desk, the more unkempt, and generally weirder, the place got. In the grassy field where the lobby and restaurant should have been, we started hearing ghost music, a phantom jazz band playing out into the falling gloom. The other side of the hotel was little more than a mouldering wreck. Case in point: this door. Pretty sure this shouldn’t be a rhomboid…

Hey! More piano!

In the pool, things got seriously weird. For one thing, it really was just as blue as it looks in this photo. Nate went off into the pool bar to take a few shots… then we both heard and felt it. This is the closest I’ve ever come to the presence of a ghost! He just says to me, “we’ve gotta get the FUCK out of this place! NOW!” and we leave.

No amount of out was enough for him… we kept going, all the way to Rochester. I wanted to stay in the Catskills, just a few towns away from this place, but Nate wouldn’t have it, we had to get home. On the way back I researched the place, and found out the cause of its demise. Closed for the first time after a devastating fire in 1999, the Paramount tried twice to return to business, failing miserably both times. The second attempt saw the Paramount crash just hours short of opening, going bankrupt and falling into repossession the morning the first guests arrived. The Gasthalter family (name apropos, as it translates from the German as “Innkeeper”!) held onto the Paramount for 105 years through boom and bust, and finally lost it in the Great Recession… while economics were part of the problem, so was a generation of Jewish youth groups who stayed there as the budget alternative to the better known resorts of the Borscht belt, and had their own memories of a haunting in Parksville. This is a place I would love to go back to… but only in daylight, and with a few more people. Just in case the only abandonment I’ve ever feared really does have a dark secret.

Cold Borscht

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Amusement, Catskills, Concrete, Institutional

I’m near the point where this becomes an addiction. It’s finals of my senior year, and the only thing on my mind is getting back to the Catskills. Nate doesn’t even want to wait the week (the misery of entrepreneurship and self employment has some silver lining, it seems), but I finally convince him to wait until after my last exam to go back. So we spent the week planning and plotting, and finding every abandoned resort that might be worth a visit.

The first one we explored, the Tamarack, has a typical story of intrigue and shady dealings for the region; after the decline and fall of the original Borscht Belt, these once-luxury properties went on the market for a pittance, attracting a variety of entrepreneurs from assorted sectors. The Tamarack’s new owners were a purported Mohican Nation, a tribe that only exists in James Fenimore Cooper’s eponymous novel, “The Last of the Mohicans”; their plan, which probably involved an Indian casino and/or tax evasion, landed them in state and federal court on an unwinnable case. The property itself, maintained by a live-in caretaker (oops!) and a landscaping crew, features a ‘Mohican’ cultural museum and annual festival, but the resort proper sits abandoned awaiting new life as a casino.

Unlike Grossingers, Tamarack built on more of a ‘Great Camp’ floor plan, with large mansion-like units instead of a single connected complex.

The swimming pool (and furniture depository) is one of its most recognizable landmarks

I love finding abandoned pianos that still play!

Quite a collection. Too bad these are obsolete now… for some reason abandoned hospitals and hotels did this a lot

Flying saucers and tepees? Oh my! The only thing better than a questionable architectural decision, is TWO questionable architectural decisions. This was in the room that purported to be the Mohican Museum!

The caretaker’s bedroom? Or a squatter’s suicide scene? The tableau here is so depressingly creepy… pill bottles, rotting can of food, unmade filthy bed, and law school study guides. This doesn’t tell a warm fuzzy story at all…

Right after this we ran into the guy. He was kind of pissed, and made us leave — at least he didn’t call the cops. You know, he was probably afraid of the cops catching him for that whole ‘Mohican’ business…

See the rest of the set here

Hot Borscht

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Amusement, Catskills, Institutional

Grossinger’s resort on a horrendously hot April afternoon. Open from the turn of the century to 1986, Grossinger’s was one of the three crown jewels of the Catskill resort area, known in its time as the Borscht Belt or Jewish Alps for the predominant nationality of its vacationers. These resorts were the reason the now-desolate route 17 expressway was built from New York to Binghamton, which once packed with bumper-to-bumper traffic every summer weekend. Now the resort towns sit boarded-up and depopulated, and those resorts that haven’t burned down yet remain abandoned and open to the elements.

25 years can do wonders on a place. Nearly everything was this moldy or more…

Sometimes with weirdly beautiful results like this rainbow bathroom!

This framework belongs to a never-built lobby and entrance to the resort. At the time of its closure in 1986, Grossingers was just beginning a campaign of extensive renovations, which ultimately ran it bankrupt, a victim of its own grandeur in a declining era.

The enormous grand ballroom. I could almost hear the jazz combo playing the night away on the stage.

No such luck for the dining room. One more winter and this is due to fold in on itself completely.

This space was even larger still, with no clear purpose. What was it?

There’s two spots at Grossingers everyone knows to visit: the lobby bar

and the indoor swimming pool. Built to full Olympic size, with space-age architecture, no expenses were spared here

Since the resort closed, the pool and its glass walls and ceiling have become a sort of terrarium, with a year-round ecosystem of ferns, mosses and birds thriving.

Lots more here!

1977 House

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Catskills, Residential

Got lost on the way into Grossingers and found this thing. We’re not sure exactly whose house it was, but it seems to have been either a VIP family at the resort who had their own summer home, or a caretaker of some sort, as it’s well within the resort fence. Whatever the cause, these people left very abruptly, almost as if expecting to return next summer, not bothering to move out.

The style and decor looks about like the late 70s… the resort closed in 1986, which may be when the residents finally left.
Living Room

The things people leave behind…

Even a dresser full of clothes for a teenaged girl

And a kitchen with appliances and wine glasses still in place.

The only sign of any history we could find were a few post-it notes saying “Leave this. –Cherie”. Who was Cherie? What happened to her?
More here (photos 1-11)