Archive for March, 2012

Sins and Trasspeses

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Buffalo, Religious

Buffalo’s Sacred Heart Cathedral, like so many other Catholic churches, fell into ruin at the loss of its flock. Once Buffalo’s diocesan church, well before 1900, it became an early casualty in 1952 due to suburban sprawl and white flight, leaving behind a church building that soon after reopened as a prominent black church and religious school before fading away in the early 2000s, again facing the loss of its congregation.



Typewriter Jesus

Fallen arches

The church basement held a variety of religious leftovers from both the Catholic and AME eras of the church. Molding away in a few boxes were 1930s and 40s anti-Communist propaganda, early televangelical memorabilia (listen to my radio show, send me money, and your sins will disappear!) and a few dozen of these posters (?). Any idea what the meaning of these may be? If it’s any clue, I think the symbol, in at least some of them, is a Chiron (Greek representation of Jesus).

Lonely chair

And finally, we found these on our way out (hence the title). The best part is, there were five, ALL with different spealling’s. One can only wonder if they were too embarrassed to leave the signs up!


Fixing A Hole

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Industrial, Institutional, Residential, Rochester

Now that I’ve lived downtown for three months, it was only a matter of time until I started exploring my immediate surroundings at the Midtown hole. Thanks to a shitty economy and even worse planning, Midtown has hit bottom after a 30-year slide from innovative (one of the first indoor malls, and a thriving business district until the late 70s) into desolate (rising crime and falling population) to promising (new construction, or at least demolition of the old, closed mall), and finally to stagnant, in its present half demolished, completely unbuilt stage.

This was Midtown (and the rest of the Rochester area) in 1963:

This is Midtown last week, looking out over where the mall once was.

While the construction site itself is moderately active and well secured, the Hole is surrounded by vacant, abandoned and underutilized structures on almost all sides. Starting at Main and Clinton, the Sibley Tower building is at about 30% capacity, Bank of America (ugh) is fully active, Action for a Better Community and the Cadillac hotel are partially active, the Elm and Richford buildings are completely abandoned, and the Seneca tower is a gutted steel wreck.

My first successful exploration here was the Elm street tower, a completely vacant, city owned 14 story tower, which looks out directly on the hole, toward the Midtown hotel

All of the interior floors were stripped down to incredibly boring plain concrete. About the only thing this place is good for in its present form is a graffiti gallery (anyone want to help out?!)

On the 13th floor, a very artistic leak created this

While the elevators were long past working, the buttons and lights still did!

Next door, much to our surprise, yet another abandoned building was wide open for the taking. This one (the white eyesore at Chestnut and Broad) was once the Richford Hotel, a member of the first budget hotel chain in the US, once located directly next to the Greyhound bus station. This property has had a forty-year curse on it — since the hotel’s closure in 1969, it has been the ruin of many a financier, driving its last five owners into bankruptcy on failed plans to rebuild into offices, apartments, offices again, a luxury hotel and condos. It, too, was ground down to the basic concrete, with one exception: this random art piece on a 9th-story wall.

I had a few theories what this could be; while it seems too old to be graffiti, could it have been original to the hotel? I think not; the decoration was too childish, almost, the way it seemed to be a page out of a giant wall-sized coloring book. Yet it makes even less sense to have arrived during any of the renovations. None ever saw any tenants, and half-colored pictures of red rainbows would hardly sell office space.

Despite a 40-year closure, this building still had working machinery and electricity in the basement, and it was probably only a matter of opening a few valves to heat the entire hotel.

Next, we tried to get onto the construction site to climb this, after it seemed like the last workers had left. The attempt was thwarted by the police mobile battalion stationed right behind it… too bad, since this looks like a perfect chill roof (or near-roof on rainy nights), besides the view from the top!

Finally, we stopped by Sibley, getting onto the lower roof with little difficulty (it’s a popular enough spot for MCC-Damon students anyway), then climbing a long access stair to the tower roof (a less popular spot, I would assume) through a trap door. The view was less than I expected, especially after seeing it twice already at the other Midtown roofs.

Getting downstairs, though, was the challenge. To our frustration, we found ourselves in a fire exit where the only options that were unlocked were the main concourse directly behind the security guards (when the building had closed almost an hour before), and a most likely alarmed door to the outside. After a few panics, we figured out our escape: set off the alarm, then run UP into the stairwell. Sure enough, security stormed through the exit door, and chased the would-be escapees. As soon as the guard left, we left through the concourse, only running into a window washer. All in all it was quite an adventure for never going more than a block from home!

Capitol Offense

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Albany, Amusement, Industrial

There are days meant for just getting the hell out of here… this weekend was certainly one of them. The combination of dealing with grad school, Laura and being indoors all winter put me over the edge; I had to do something besides another weekend with Her, and I had to do it NOW! So, as soon as Laura was safely on the bus to class for a Friday morning (and she’d just stayed with me, so I had to make sure it looked like nothing was out of the ordinary), I packed my bag (consisting of mostly beer) and set off running for the train!

About halfway to the station I heard a muffled BANG! from my backpack as my growler of home brewed ale chose to explode at the worst possible moment. Doing the only thing that made sense at the time, I fished out the broken jug and chugged, and chugged, as much of the spewing geyser of potent brew, and threw the remains into a trash can before too many people saw. Not that it helped much, by the time I was in my seat on the train, the world was swaying much more than just the gentle rattle of iron on steel. Little did I know this would probably be my closest encounter with sobriety for the entire weekend… and most of my photos show it!

This building is a hotel with a very surprising location, backed up directly against the New York state capitol, with which it even shares a basement, with doors still extant into the capital and the Empire Plaza parking garage. While the building was ordinary enough abandoned hotel, the location was quite striking.

Looking out at the main wing of the hotel, and the Capitol directly behind

In the lobby; this is where people would have entered from the Capitol concourse.

The hallways were particularly narrow and drab for a hotel, especially one bound to attract the political type

After restocking at a beer store in Colonie our next location was the Starlite Theater, a bizarre circular venue that closed in about 2004, mostly due to the unpopularity of a circular stage

This wasn’t the most interesting place, especially with a county sheriff keeping an eye on it, so we went back to our first location of the weekend, AlTech Specialty Steel. AlTech is probably the largest abandonment I’ve seen yet, at nearly a million square feet across 11 surviving buildings, enough to make even night photography interesting and challenging. We stayed here well into the night for beer and exploring in the old Concrete way with at least six bottles of the old Double Bastards!




My only regret here is that in easily 12 hours of wandering around and exploring over three nights, I only managed to take a few indoor photos at the very end… the best part is this place is so wide open I know we can come back in a few months and do it all over again!