Charlie Says

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

It took far longer than I imagined, but I’ve finally ended my exploring drought, going out to Buffalo (and trying to revive the old Concrete Collective) with Hayden, probably the most promising local explorer I’ve met in years) to see some of the ruins. Our first stop was Wildroot, the factory that put the grease in Grease. Active from 1936 into the early 60s, Wildroot made hair products from the (wild) lanolin root that were allegedly lighter and less greasy than the competition, though the goal was still the same greased-back rockabilly look. As the times changed, Wildroot Cream Oil went badly out of fashion and sales plummeted, although the brand remained (barely) alive and is still produced in Asia, the factory has been out of commission for 50 years, only used occasionally as storage since then.

Fifty years later, there is nothing left to show the once purpose of this space.

Like so many abandoned factories and warehouses, it has become a blank canvas for graffiti, without any other recognizable purpose.

Summer Reruns

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Concrete, Rochester, Underground

Back in the subway for the Nth time. It’s a waste of a chance to get out somewhere with a real explorer, but maybe, just maybe, it might lead to something better in the future. Until then, I guess I should just be glad to have gotten out at all.


Hmm, maybe it was worth the trip. I never had a wide angle any other time I was here.

Spaghetti Factory

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

This was a place I saw while I was canvassing last fall and never made it back to. As far as I can tell, it’s a former part of the LiDestri plant, a spaghetti sauce conglomerate that dominates the north side of Fairport. It’s also the farthest away of our regular season destinations, so we decided to make it a priority in a week that we have a guest explorer with a car in our group. The entrance was a bit less than intuitive, for me anyway – the door that I thought would open, and probably was open in the fall, was grown shut with a thick blanket of ivy, most of it poison. The rest of the group was able to get in through a window I couldn’t fit into, so I just waited outside instead of making the rash decision of trying to tear down the noxious plants. Just as they were about to leave, they found a locked door that opened from the inside, and I finally got my chance, running around the place as quickly as I could with the 10 minutes or so of daylight remaining, more or less shooting blind. I’m actually pretty satisfied with what happened, although I would have loved to have a wide angle lens for this place…

Backup Plan Hospital

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

Yes, I went back to this place yet again. It was the start of a new season in the Concrete Collective, and we were aiming high, trying to get into the Terrence Building. Of course, we missed the brief window of it being open without climbing like a parkour monkey, just like every time, so we went to the one place we knew was still open, the Genesee Hospital. Things had changed quite a bit in the last few weeks though, the side door was wide open now, and the inside was full of plastic sheeting and asbestos warnings. So it looks like we’re losing this one soon too.

I’m kind of surprised no one has smashed this yet.

There are work lights scattered throughout the hospital now, creating some new shots in the darkened corridors, and making night exploring a lot easier.

Root canal time!

This empty space used to be a warren of horrendously moldy psychiatric rubber rooms. Now it’s just a blank concrete hall.

Rites of Spring

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

Playing with fire again, this time in the old Flint St warehouse… reason #18 I shouldn’t go to Burning Man: I can’t spin fire without burning a hole in my shirt and having to get put out with a $8 bottle of Drunken Bastard!

Some people were much better at it than me though

We need to make a sport that uses these. Fire hockey? Dodgefireball? Cricket 2.0?

All that fire did light the place up nicely at least…

Go home, you’re drunk!

Random 3am calls from these freaks to go exploring is one thing I’ll miss horribly about graduation.

It’s such a shame the library is too moldy to read anymore. A few years ago there were thousands of books, mostly literature and history, piled up in one room of this place.

(many) more pictures of this place here

Groundhog Day (Again)

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Concrete, Rochester, Underground

The subway seems like it always was and always will be here. It’s been abandoned for 55 years now, and while a piece here and there gets filled in sometimes, it’s unlikely to ever see another train, or really any reuse other than the de facto graffiti gallery it’s become.

Every year since 1994, the Concrete Discussion Group has come here on or near Groundhog day to explore the tunnel and eat Dinosaur Barbeque. This year was the 20th, and, I’m starting to think, last time we celebrate the eventual end of winter and start of another exploring season. There are a lot less of us now, and, worse yet, no flow of new people coming in, and even as it becomes the latest instagram craze, exploration is dead here in Rochester, close to where it all began. But it was as good a time as any to forget about all this for a while, bring out the beer, and just get underground for a while!