S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse

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A large, open room filled with wooden support beams, top floor

The S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse was built in 1886 on the shores of Brooklyn’s vile Gowanus Canal. It stored grain and animal feed, both which were valuable commodities in a time when horses were used for everything from pulling the carriages of the elite and wealthy to plowing the fields of the farms still prevalent in the outer boroughs. The company’s fortunes were directly tied to grain,and when cars replaced horses on the city streets, the storehouse was forced to become a general warehouse, until it was finally abandoned sometime around the 1960’s.

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The very top of the factory. Those flimsy boards are the only things between an explorer and a 2 story fall.

S.W.Bowne, the storehouse’s owner, was not the standard rich person of his day. Instead of sitting in a comfortable office lavishing in his own wealth, he spent his time in the storehouse, doing manual labor alongside his workers. One day, while helping his workers carry lumber, his foot broke through the floor and was caught in a machine, which tore apart his leg. After the amputation that followed, Bowne was forced to sue for worker’s compensation, which was contested by his board of directors. He won, however, when the NY Appeals Court ruled that while Bowne was the owner of the company, he was also a working employee, and was therefor entitled to worker’s comp.

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Wooden beams and floors still stand strong after almost 150 years

While Red Hook is filled with abandoned warehouses, the S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse is uniquely significant. Most abandoned industrial buildings, even ones older than this, are filled with modern equipment and have often been renovated or added to in more (relatively) recent times. This storehouse, however, looks pretty much the same as it did in the 1880’s, inside and out. Nothing has been added to it. The original wood floors were never done away with in favor of concrete. This old building may be the best look into industrial history you can still visit today.

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Before newfangled elevators were invented, pulleys like this were used to hoist heavy goods into the upper floors of factories and warehouses. This very obsolete piece of equipment still stands tall over the canal.

Wood floors are usually very unsafe for urban explorers. Wood floors that have not been maintained since the 1960’s have usually long since collapsed. However, bags of grain are very heavy, so the floors of the storehouse were built STRONG. In most places the wood floors still feel as solid as concrete. Time and the elements have created some weakness though, especially under the small collapse in the roof. On the top floor, you can still see two holes, one where an explorer fell through, and one where his friend fell through trying to help him. Watch your step, look out for water damage and stay safe.

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Signs in English, Italian and Yiddish can be found in the storehouse, giving a glimpse into who worked here long ago.
*Update: This is a no smoking sign written in Yiddish- thank you to Joseph Alexiou for the translation!

Due to ease of access, the storehouse has a lot of graffiti, a lot of which is beautiful and well done.

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Third floor, with pillars marked west and east. Notice how well supported the roof is.

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Factory door

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The first floor

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The storehouse from outside

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An industrial sunset

Next to the storehouse are two huge, empty warehouses. Getting in is easy, and there isn’t much inside, so the urban explorer would probably take little interest. However, they are filled with graffiti, so if that’s your thing stop by and check it out.

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The warehouses near the storehouse are huge but empty

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This one has an old boat out front for some reason

Maas & Waldstein Company Chemical Factory

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“ATTENTION!! THIS CONTAINER HAZARDOUS WHEN EMPTY. Since emptied container contains product residue (vapor or liquid), all labeled hazard precautions must be observed.”

Urban exploration, in general, is much better in the winter than in the summer. Truly abandoned places get overgrown fast, making it harder to move(and almost impossible to do so quietly). Your respirator gets sweaty and uncomfortable, exposed skin gets scratched up, and the heat generally makes things less enjoyable. I faced all these problems at the old Mass and Waldstein Company’s chemical factory, but by far the worst part were the relentless mosquitoes coming from the stagnant, muddy puddles i had to slog through on the way to the interior of the area. Please, if you go here in the warmer months, take some bug spray. Or just wait until winter.

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Inside the chemical factory, with huge overturned chemical vats seen on the right side

The Maas and Waldstein Company’s factory was founded in 1876 near the shores of New Jersey’s disgusting Passaic River. Over the years it grew, adding on new buildings and producing everything from soda flavoring to explosives used by the WWI French Army. It was abandoned sometime around the 90’s.

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Despite being abandoned fairly recently, the factory is in terrible condition.

The Maas and Waldstein Company Factory has a grim side to its long history. In 1916, workers went on strike for better hours(they only wanted to work 10 hours a day, how lazy is that?) and better pay(they wanted a whole 30 cents per hour!). The company did not listen to their complaints and hired new workers, causing many to lose their jobs. One of the company’s most exploitative ways to get new workers was to send recruiters down south to try and sign on as many poor blacks as possible. To increase the numbers of workers they brought in, recruiters would describe the lynchings of the south in gory detail in attempt to scare blacks to move north and work. They advertised that “To die from the bite of frost is far more glorious than at the hands of the mob.” Blacks came seeking opportunity, but found poor wages, long hours, and dangerous work. The factory had multiple fires and explosions during its history, some so large that people in the area felt their houses shake.

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Chemical vats

Today, the Maas and Waldstein Company Factory’s many buildings are in very poor condition. If you’re interested in exploring here, try to go soon. I have a feeling it won’t be around much longer.

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“NO SMOKING”

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Evil looking black ooze

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Factory room

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Spray paint cans on an old shelf 

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A can of kerosene, probably used by arsonists

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Total chaos

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Pretty standard abandoned factory sights

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The standard red brick smokestack

Market Street Power Plant

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The Market Street Power Plant, or to be exact, the New Orleans Public Service Incorporated Power Plant, is a massive brick building with two smokestacks that tower over the low houses of the New Orleans Garden District. Built in 1905 to serve a city growing in both population and industry, the power plant served for almost 70 years, until it was finally abandoned in 1973.
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Right after entering the power plant
The first thing i found inside was troubling: the whole bottom floor area was strung up with lit up lamps, all of which looked new and maintained. Maybe this place isn’t as abandoned as you’d think.
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Why is this here???

The power plant is huge, yet fairly easy to explore, as it is mostly made up of massive, breathtaking rooms.
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Looking down into the plant’s main room

This is the largest room in the whole power plant, spanning from basement to roof, and jam packed with machines, dials, and pipes. One really does feel small standing here.

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Main room from its middle floor

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Dials and controls in the main room

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Looking down to a pool of foul water at the bottom of the main room

After climbing multiple sets of treacherous stairs, some that showed evidence of previous collapse, i managed to reach the roof.

DSC_0204  Best view in the city!

The roof here is directly over the main room. If it was to collapse, the fall would take you to the basement floor. Ouch.

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The famous double smokestacks

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The wind kept these two fans spinning as if they were still on

Coming down from the roof, i set out to explore the rest of the power plant. There are multiple other big, open rooms.

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A big room on the upper floor

This room had multiple plastic kiddie pools in it. I have no idea why.

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Another huge room, with windows easily recognizable form outside

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From higher up

After going down a staircase in this room, i noticed a modern looking piece of technology that proudly claimed to be a motion activated camera. Uh oh! Time to beat a hasty retreat!
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A cargo ship passes by on the Mississippi
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Escape! The way to the door out

If you choose to explore the Market Street Power Station, know that there are motion cameras, brittle floors/stairs, barbed wire, and a host of other dangers, as well as that its not fully abandoned for whatever reason and there are lights still on. Explore at your own risk, but know its truly breathtaking on the inside.

Substation No. 3

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Substation No. 3 is one abandoned building that has truly been forgotten. While many abandoned places have names and extensive histories already written about them, substation no. 3 boasts no fame, recognition, or even acknowledgment. Even finding the name “Substation No. 3” required 2 days of research, finally turning up one old photo with “substation no3 at Kingsbridge NY” scrawled in pen on the bottom. While other Bronx substations such as Substation No. 10 have been noticed, explored, and even redeveloped, substation no. 3 still sits forgotten in a small lot next to the Merto-North tracks and Bronx River.

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Inside Substation No. 3

There were multiple of these substations, or converter stations, built around the city in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s as the city’s transit system started to grow. Their main purpose was to convert the AC power from power plants into the DC power that the trains needed to run on, which is what happened in the massive rotary converters that can be seen in these photos. The rotary converters were difficult and costly to run, requiring constant maintenance and supervision by a team of workers on station 24/7. Eventually, in the 1940’s and 1950’s, the rotary converter was rendered obsolete by new technology that could do the same thing with almost no moving parts and no personal. The substations were obsolete, and were demolished or abandoned.

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A rotary converter

The main room of Substation No. 3 is large and open, with two massive skylights letting in the light and now the elements. Other than the rotary converters, there are massive control boards covered in buttons and levers.

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Mad scientist looking electrical controls

There is a small door right next to the entrance to the substation. Going into it leads you to a couple of storage bays, dark, dirty, and completely filled with debris. Having no respirator, i chose not to stay in these rooms for long.

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The gloomy and dark storerooms

The way into Substation No. 3 is huge, exposed, and obvious, although it does require a climb to get into and a jump to get down from. As far as i could tell, this is the only practical way in and out.

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Looking at the entry point from the catwalk on the other side of the substation

The massive skylights on the roof both let in light and the elements, causing the deterioration of the substation’s machinery and floor.

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One of the massive skylights

The grounds of Substation No. 3 are still used as a parking lot/storage area by the MTA. Be weary, as there may be security on site.

The Gary Screw and Bolt Factory

The abandoned Gary Screw and Bolt Factory is a testament to better times in the town of Gary, Indiana. In its day, Gary was home to many different industries, and economic success eventually led to beautiful architecture around the city. However, like in many American cities and towns, the industry left. Today, Gary has fallen on hard times, the many factories that once supported the economy are abandoned, and the beautiful old buildings that came about from industrial wealth are now ruins.

In 1912, the Pittsburgh Screw and Bolt Works opened up the Gary Screw and Bolt Factory. The factory was right next to the many steel plants in Gary, giving it a constant supply of quality steel without transportation costs. WWII brought 1,000 workers into the factory to mass produce parts needed on tanks, planes, and ships. As time passed, the Gary Screw and Bolt Factory was hit by the decline of the steel industry that fed it, and the rising world market that it competed with. The factory could take no more, and closed in 1986.

DSC_0320The Gary Screw and Bolt Factory Today

I spent a day exploring Gary’s many abandoned buildings during the summer, and the Screw and Bolt Factory was the last stop. There is very little machinery left, leaving a massive open space, which is slowly being reclaimed by nature.

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Sunlight at the end of a long row of columns

After its days as a factory ended, the abandoned building was purchased by a charity to store bulk textiles that would be sent to impoverished countries. When the owners of the charity were jailed on corruption charges, the factory and the huge piles of clothing inside it were abandoned again. In one part of the factory you can still see these rotting clothes.

Gary Screw and Bolt Factory

This factory had some of the largest open spaces of any abandoned building I’ve ever seen

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Orange cloth from the “charity” sits rotting on the floor

Thanks for the read!

Crab Island Fish Factory

Most abandoned factories are found at the ends of dirty old streets, often next to foul urban waterways or unused railroad yards. The Crab Island Fish Factory is an exception. It sits on its own island in New Jersey’s Great Bay, the only stain on a landscape that seems remote and almost untouched by humans. The factory was built in the 1800’s to turn an inedible type of fish called a bunker, or a menhaden, into an assortment of products, such as fish oil, fertilizer, and pet food. Locally, the factory was known as “the stink house”, due to the awful smell it would emit when it was in operation. The factory brought fishing in the area to an industrial scale. Bunker/menhaden travel in huge schools, which would be spotted from above by airplanes. The planes would then direct boats to surround the school with nets, catching thousands of fish with very little time and effort. Eventually, the factory’s efficiency led to its own downfall, as it dragged the once enormous bunker/menhaden population lower and lower, until there simply weren’t enough fish left to catch and still make a profit. It also had to ship product to the railroads, which were all a great distance from its remote island. After failing in its original purpose, and overusing the resource that it had thrived on, the factory still clung on to life by composting garbage from nearby Atlantic City. In the 1970’s, the factory’s atrocities towards nature ended when it became a part of the Green Acres program. Today, the factory has been reclaimed by nature, it’s warehouses are home to seabirds and its piers (ironically) shelter huge schools of small fish.

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The Crab Island Fish Factory from the kayak launch

Exploring the factory would have been fun enough, but i decided to go one step further and spend the night there. After loading very basic supplies into the kayak, I made the 1 mile journey through the marsh and across the channel to the factory’s island. Upon reaching the island, my little group dragged its kayaks into the most liveable warehouse and set up a small campsite of sleeping bags, backpacks, and lanterns. The sun was setting, but we set out to explore the island before dark.

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This is the warehouse we chose to call home for a night

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Huge machine pieces, my guess is they were for grinding up fish.

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A doorway into another warehouse

The island has many buildings and structures, all in various states of disrepair. Some buildings were just piles of twisted metal frames and pipes, which had succumb to the winds and storms off the ocean. Even the warehouse i was staying in was only half intact, with half of the roof caved in and collapsed.

DSC_0126 Sunset shining on the factory smokestacks

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The skeletal frame of a roof over the factory
The Atlantic City skyline was visible from right in front of the warehouse i was staying in, giving a small taste of humanity to a remote and forgotten place.

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This building was far away from the main factory. I’m not sure what purpose it served.

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A large water tower in the sunset.

Sleeping in the factory was creepy to say the least. Dripping water falling on sheet metal sounded like footsteps. Rusty metal creaked and moaned. At around 4am there was an ear shattering mechanical roar, far louder than any of the planes or boats that passed by. I don’t know and don’t want to know where it came from.

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This was my view as the night fell.

When the sun came up and made the place a whole lot less creepy, i finally got some sleep. After waking up and taking a few more photos, it was back into the kayaks to sail for home.

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My warehouse in the morning.

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Collapse and decay.

The Crab Island Fish Factory is a tough place to get to (you need a boat), but if you have the chance to go, i suggest you do it soon, as this place wont be around much longer. Also, pack bug spray. You’ll need it.

Thanks for the read!

Overbrook Asylum

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In the late 1800’s, progressive reformers began to question the long standing tradition of treating the mentally ill like prisoners. They began to look at mental illness as just that: an illness, that needed to be treated and cured. In 1896, a new asylum was founded in Essex County, New Jersey. In its early years, the asylum housed thousands of inmates, but as new drugs were invented, it slowly became oversized and obsolete. The complex’s path to abandonment happened slowly, as more and more of it’s buildings became unnecessary and were abandoned. Eventually the entire asylum, which was much more like a small town, was deserted. For better or for worse, its many years of service are almost forgotten. The Essex County sheriffs department has made quite a few claims about security around the asylum, but i was not hassled as i walked into the compound and jumped through a window. The asylum’s condition is varied from place to place.

DSC_0005   Long hallways interrupted by small community rooms characterize the asylum.

Overbrook Asylum was founded by people with good intentions, but like every other asylum in the turn of the century, its methods of treatment were often cruel and torturous. “Treatments” such as lobotomies, submerging a patient in ice cold water, and even electroshock therapy were practiced in asylums across the US. In one particularly cold winter, 24 patients died of exposure when heat systems broke down. Despite the many horrors that Overbrook hosted, it probably helped rehabilitate many people during its later years when treatments were more based in science. Has Overbrook redeemed itself for the atrocities committed to the mentally ill? You can decide.

DSC_0025 “Syringes/sharps”

I could still tell what many of the rooms and areas in the asylum were used for back in the day, thanks to the countless papers and signs. In one room, i found a folder containing a file for a former taxi cab driver. His paper read
“Date Discharged: May 11 1952.”
“How Discharged: Died”

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The Cafeteria

Overbrook Asylum has now been condemned to demolition. Its long history of both helping and hurting patients in need finally comes to an end, after more than 100 years.

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Much of the asylum is dark and ominous. No wonder there are countless ghost stories about this place

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Never stop exploring!

Thanks for the read!