Archive for September, 2012

Bluebird Of Friendliness

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Amusement, Catskills

Once we finally found the stairs (which are not obvious in any way), we arrived in the iconic pool. The only resort with a full-size Olympic pool indoors, Grossinger’s used it not only for recreation, but also for championship competition, hosting Olympic qualifying in swimming in 1956, as well as championship boxing, and early development of Alpine skiing, having been held in the resort’s glory days. The pool area itself is a relic of its time, built in space-age modern style.

Unfortunately every year nature and vandals eat up more of it… although it was always unlikely at best anyone would want the place, it’s still sad to see it go in this way.

And then, just as I was about to leave the pool, she showed up:

I never would have thought I’d wish I had bird seed with me… this little bird let me walk right up and take pictures!

Overall, the 1993 wing was in the worst shape of anything on the property.

If any of you go back, it’s the one corridor of the hotel where the floors are seriously scary. You won’t want to go any farther than this.

Toward the top of the hill, approaching the clubhouse is the resort’s power plant, which has been cleared of almost all its machinery.

I think this ballroom has seen its last dance!

This enormous space was either the boxing arena or the conference room, as far as I could tell

Are you itchy yet?

This chalet looks out directly over the golf course, and adjoins the maintenance building. I got a very distinct feeling I shouldn’t be here.

Or especially here!

Just as I ducked out of here, two golf carts of course workers came in. We didn’t stick around long enough to know if they saw us…

Lives of the Rich and Famous

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Amusement, Catskills

When it closed abruptly in 1985, Grossinger’s Resort had just began its sixth major expansion, and attempt to reclaim the title of “World’s Largest Hotel” from the Concord and a few up and coming contenders in Las Vegas. With a declining tourist business in the Catskills already, and the scattering of Jewish families out of Brooklyn and into the rest of the northeast, the Borscht Belt’s days were numbered, and the few remaining resorts intensified their competition, building unsustainably to build market share and go down in history as the Greatest. Among frequent guests in the 1980s, vacationing here as well as performing, Evandor Holyfield, Mike Tyson, Barry Manilow and Bill Murray were Grossinger’s mainstays, and Arnold Palmer was there at what became the hotel’s final days, planning his redesign of the golf course for a 1986 season that would never arrive.

Once the property left the hands of the Grossinger family, it passed from developer to developer, alternating phases of demolition, reconstruction and languishing abandonment. By 1993, golf was booming in the region, and the course reopened, along with the clubhouse restaurant, tennis club and one building of the decaying hotel, hardly a shadow of its luxurious former life. Without the entertainment and culture of Grossinger’s’s glory days, the hotel failed in less than a summer, leaving only the golf course behind, as it remains to this day. Reaching the golf course requires driving straight through the abandoned resort complex, creating an eerie feeling for the golfers, but a perfect excuse for us exploring, and plenty of traffic to blend in with on what should be deserted roads.

Entering from the first, obvious, open door, this sight and an arresting stench of decay and rot are your welcome as newly arrived guests.

Nature has taken over here, with moss and even some fully formed plants occupying many of the bathrooms

How long has it been since you’ve seen a computer with a monitor like this?

Play room

October 1984 — program for a late season Saturday, including an Evandor Holyfield bout

Where the front desk used to be, only a reflecting pool now

Take a seat at the bar…but we haven’t had that spirit here since 1985

Approaching the pool… this was, believe it or not, part of the wing that was open in 1993, pressed into use as a makeshifted lobby.

Due to the architectural changes in the late stages of the hotel, despite being directly under the pool it takes a lot of wandering around to actually reach it from here.

…continued in part 2

I Walk Along Darkened Corridors

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Amusement, Catskills

This was my second try at what is without a doubt the creepiest place I’ve ever explored. I’m still not sure why, but something about the Paramount Hotel is about as “haunted” as an abandoned building can get. Its history isn’t particularly dark; the hotel expanded and contracted from 1905 to 2000, run for 93 of those years by the Gasthalter family, before burning partially in October 2000, while full to near capacity with 350 guests of a conference on Judaism. While everyone evacuated the hotel without casualties, 1/3 of the hotel had to be removed, including the lobby and restaurants. A new ownership group tried to revive the Paramount and reopen it in 2004, but went bankrupt the night before the hotel was due to open, and it has sat abandoned ever since, slowly decaying after its missed opening day.

This furniture seems to have been awaiting placement in the rest of the rooms … or being scrapped for future use

Probably the least glamorous of the Catskill pools I’ve seen

…even before it became a chemical dump

This seems to have been a rather utilitarian outdoor pool? Or just a place where they never got around to rebuilding?

Room 92 still has its ‘opening’ day inspection checklist

And it’s still kind of, sort of intact

With a Gideons’ bible open to the book of Revelations.

And right about then, we noticed we weren’t alone (again!) and got the hell out of there. We came back in the morning just to see if anything had changed; it turned out to only be scrappers who left a pile of metal on the driveway.

Compared to the other resorts, this one even looks a bit off from the outside.

Pining For The Fjords

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Amusement, Catskills

The Sullivan County Catskills are no longer the prime vacation spot they were for most of the last hundred years. Once known as the Borscht Belt and the Jewish Alps, the region was the birthplace of stand-up comedy and the ski lift, and once known for bumper to bumper traffic all the way from Brooklyn to the mountains. Air travel, air conditioning and middle-class Jewish families moving to the suburbs brought hard times to the Catskills, and resorts started closing through the 80s and 90s until by 1998 only two remained, out of nearly 100 abandoned and destroyed.

The Pines was one of the last survivors, falling into bankruptcy just before the summer of 1998, and shuttered once and for all in 2005 after a few attempts at reopening. Commonly considered the third-largest and third-most luxurious (after Grossinger’s and the Concord), the Pines included not only a massive resort hotel, but also a golf course and ski mountain on adjoining land, none of which are still in use. Entry to the abandoned resort is remarkably straightforward, as long as you can climb a fence. Otherwise, it takes quite a bit of searching for one of the few holes.

Vandalism and nature have done far more to this resort in 10 years, than Grossinger’s suffered in 25. A botched partial demolition, which struck asbestos and quickly ran out of money, did not help the cause.

I think this is one remaining wall of the building that was once the indoor swimming pool

Any ideas? I think it may have been an amphitheatre, although the rows are extremely wide for that

An Army cot. First, why was this in a hotel? Second, what is wrong with me that I actually kind of miss these things from my Massawepie days?

There is no logic to the setup of the Pines. Rooms were just stuck together anywhere they would fit, and the numbers reflect this, being more or less chronological. The newest rooms were in the worst condition by far, both from being the last ones used, and of well inferior quality.

I love it when the floor is greener than the grass outside

What remains of the front desk and/or mailroom

A surprising portion of the property was built on stilts…

UER does not destroy places. That job is left to people liky out!

Resident Ego Castle

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Catskills, Residential

I built for Me a castle where my ego could reside
Rooms filled with useless treasures which were my joy and pride
Its steps led to confusion and massive doors kept out the light
The walls closed in around me, and left me hostage to the night

Mile Marker Zero — Rooms (2008)

Dundas Castle, or Craig-e-Clare, (often incorrectly referred to as Ravenloft Castle) is an isolated, uninhabited castle in Roscoe, NY abandoned in 1921. Originally a resort for the ultra-wealthy railroad tycoons, in 1915 it fell into the hands of the Dundas family (best known for their founding role in Toronto), at which time the first lodge was demolished, and construction began on the castle. However, Sir Ralph Dundas died in 1921, leaving his wife in a mental institution and the castle uninherited, and after nearly a century of abandonment it still sits waiting for future development that may never arrive.

Entering the castle keep from an overgrown access road

Most of the doors in the castle are these arched entrances

But the architecture outside the castle is by far the most interesting part of this location. Modeled after Dundas Castle in Scotland (by way of Rochester’s Warner Castle and Toronto’s Dundas House), the portion of the castle that was completed cost over $750,000 in 1920, equivalent to about $10 million today!

Mines of Moria

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Buffalo, Outdoors, Underground

The best and weirdest ideas begin with beer, specifically the consumption of it in the outdoors. (like this:)

Not that any of you didn’t know that I’m not normal, but with some liquid inspiration and the right friends, even something as strange as a weekend bike trip to Niagara Falls makes perfect sense, and less than 24 hours later we were off riding into the night, basically in search of the unknown, to go sleep in a cave.

After 55 miles or so, we found the cave entrance, and in the morning it was time to explore.

From all we knew, the Akron cave would be a rather dull straight line route like Norton’s cave; we could not have been more wrong, as soon as we lost sight of the entrance we were in a maze of twisty passages all alike.

It goes on and on… we didn’t dare venture too far in though still having to ride to Niagara falls and part of the way back

Somebody many years ago seems to have left an offering.

These are rotten wooden columns, apparently holding up the entire mine system…

Our ride home brought us back along the lake, camping in some park we weren’t supposed to be in along route 18

And, yesterday, my hipster bike died suddenly and tragically, at mile marker 29 of the Lake Ontario parkway. After four flat tires in less than an hour, the cause became apparent: the frame had come unwelded, and I had to finish the trip quite ingloriously, packed in the back of a friend’s Prius, wedged under my bike’s corpse. But at least it was an adventure, even if it would prove to be an expensive one!