Industrial ruins have a grandeur and fascination all their own, one that’s quite different from the impression left by decaying monuments or ancient architecture. On seeing the Acropolis or Angkor Wat, a typical visitor will be awestruck at how the majesty of great art endures across the millennia. Walking around a derelict coke plant or steel mill, a visitor is more likely to wonder what a particular building was used for or guess how many tons it produced per day.
A fine collection of photographs of mostly abandoned industrial installations, taken by the photographer Shaun O’Boyle, can be found at www.oboylephoto.com/ruins . The site has scores of beautiful pictures, some in color and some black-and-white, of the Bethlehem Steel Works, the Tahawus iron mine in the Adirondacks, train and boat yards (though the lack of identification for many of these images can be frustrating), factories, mills, power stations, and many other sites. Prints of these pictures and O’Boyle’s equally outstanding travel photography are available through the site.
Another good site for industrial archeologists is www.undercity.org , curated by the photographer and historian Steve Duncan. As the name suggests, this site emphasizes underground sites, though not exclusively. Duncan gives a sewer-rat’s-eye view of railway tunnels, an abandoned Milwaukee coke plant, bridges, hospitals, jails, asylums, and a Titan missile silo near Denver. The photographer, who styles himself “a guerrilla historian in Gotham,” also provides ample commentary on his subjects, the history behind them, and how he took the pictures.
—Frederic D. Schwarz
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