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:
Birdhouse

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.
Front

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
Pool

…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!

Niagara Fell

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Amusement, Niagara

hotelhell

The TripAdvisor reviews said it all: “words can’t describe the awfulness”, “we got locked INSIDE”, “please stay at this hotel and RUIN your entire vacation”. It’s no wonder that between woeful management and upkeep, a terrible economy, and the fact that the hotel itself was a lie (“Fallside” doesn’t mean “walk half a mile through the ghetto or drive and pay a $20 state park toll”), the Fallside closed for the last time in the fall of 2008. While there was an apparent attempt to revive the place, judging by the signs proudly proclaiming new management and “Major Brand Chain Coming Soon!” on the roadside, the Fallside fell to the homeless and scrappers, and the optimistic signs were plastered over with Niagara County condemnation notices. While the street facing parts of the building looked almost ready to revive, the back corner told a different story: windows broken, boarded and smashed through again, letting us walk right into the restaurant and bar.

As one might expect the Fallside was built in the faux-classy style of so many other tourist traps, pretending to be five-star on a third-class budget, with all the tacky porno-kitsch it entails, making a mockery of luxury. (Note the carpeted ceiling tiles.)

Tacky

I wonder if it was mold that did the place in, or if this happened after abandonment? The entire building was excessively hot and humid, with a tangible stink in the air… not terribly different from the TripAdvisor complaints, actually!

Imagine this stage filling up night after night with third-rate smooth jazz.
Ballroom

Or, evidently, loungey piano playing
Piano

Couches

Oof. Anyone bring their mask?
Moldy

Night Audit – Inn on the River 12/1/08
Inn on the River was not the name on any of the signs. I wonder if this was done by a potential future owner?

And finally, a rooftop view of the hotel. This tower was the “falls view” portion, although even then the view consisted of a little bit of mist on the horizon.
Falls

Mosquito Coast

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Amusement, Finger Lakes, Outdoors

After watching the tower come down, Anna and I continued on to our real adventure planned for the weekend — bike camping along the lake shore. On our way out of town we stopped at the public market to pick up Katie, Jake and Tom, and went on from there to route 101, and about a 40 mile ride to Sodus Point. Our destination: Beachwood State Park, a newly acquired property that was once the boy scouts’ Camp Pioneer (which would be replaced in 1951 with the current Adirondack site), then the girl scouts’ Arrowhead Camp, before closing around 2000.

Just off of 101, the first ruin we’d noticed was this “cobblebrick” construction, probably from well before the Civil War. I’ve never seen anything like this before, probably one of a kind architecture? (normally cobblestones are not the exact same size, and are piled on just as they fit)
Cobblebrick

And then, the mosquitoes started. Hundreds of them. Thousands of them. Walking through the camp. their buzz was constant, a teeming, pulsing life to the fields and the undergrowth. We finally escaped the horde in the abandoned mess hall, probably the largest of the surviving buildings
Mess

They left the antiquated kitchen appliances right in place. These probably were relics from the boy scouts’ days here, I would not be at all surprised if they’re 60+ years old.

This was the only graffiti we saw in the whole camp. And just before we noticed a rather rowdy group starting to show up.
Tag

We had started to claim Yellow Camp for ourselves when these teenage thugs began laying claim to it themselves, saying it was reserved for someone’s high school graduation party. Whether or not this was true, we let them be and went looking for the beach. Continuing past Yellow Camp there are apple orchards, going the other way the trail follows the shore rather closely.
Yellow

Close to the lake, we found another camp, with a few abandoned cabins in it, and took this one instead.
Not Yellow

After watching the sunset and having a fire on the beach, at around midnight we tried to sleep in the largest of the cabins. Katie, Tom and Jake fell right asleep, somehow, but I was being eaten alive by the worst infestation of fleas I’d ever found. After a while Anna was awake and just as aggravated, so the two of us went down to the beach, and took advantage of our new environment. Just as we nearly fell asleep again, the thugs were back, chucking firecrackers and mortars over the cliff at us. I’m still not sure if they were that oblivious, or if they thought two naked hipsters on a beach made fun target practice, but after about 10 shots or so, one connected, and exploded right in front of our faces! After that though it was an amazing night and morning, at least until we got back to the cabin. All of our belongings were thrown around all over the place, and Tom and Katie left at 5am, leaving behind only a note, “couldn’t take the bugs, got a head start”.

Upon further review, it was clear we had been ransacked. The thieves were classically inept, at best, but still managed to rob us blind! They did their best to relieve us of our clothes, and took my phone, but left two wallets full of cash, and our expensive cameras, completely untouched. We picked up what little remained of our stuff, downed the last beers we’d brought, and went searching for the thugs of Yellow Camp, whom we found almost immediately. As soon as they saw who they were, they broke into a run, and we gave chase as well as we could, only losing then once they’d piled haphazardly into a pickup truck and hauled ass toward the 101.

With our remaining direct actions at a loss, we did the one thing we could think of, and biked to the police station (remember, we can’t call — fuckers took our phones!), and filed a report. The officers weren’t the most helpful, but I’m not sure how much they could have done anyway, when we didn’t know whose party it was, or even who might have been there. The ride home was long, but relaxing and quite interesting, 61 miles along the roads and canal in Wayne county.

This morning, I finally heard from my phone, after a few dozen calls to it, believe it or not — calling the number actually worked, and it wasn’t a thug who picked up, but a fireman. Unfortunately, the battery picked the worst time imaginable to give out: halfway through his address, thirteen thousand, eight hundred and ni….”. I tried to find 1389x of every road in the area and call them, but none seemed to have an extra Droid lying around. At least I tried…

And when all is said and done, a phone was a small loss to pay for an amazing weekend with Anna, and the chance to go bike touring and see a place I never would have otherwise.