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Posts Tagged ‘urban exploration’

A ghost town in the heart of Silicon Valley? I first read about Drawbridge a couple years ago, but didn’t get a chance to explore it until last weekend. Founded in 1876 on the rail line between Fremont and Alviso, Drawbridge reached its peak during Prohibition. Due to its relative isolation and the fact that nearly every resident was armed, local law enforcement didn’t bother making vice raids. Nearly every resident was armed. Water pumping and nearby salt evaporation ponds caused the land to sink into the bay, and people started to leave. Local newspapers published wild accounts of treasure left behind, bringing hordes of scavengers and vandals. The few remaining residents scared them off with shotguns, but it was a futile effort. Charles Luce, the last man in Drawbridge, left in 1979. In thirty years of abandonment, most of the buildings are in an advanced state of decay and sinking into the marsh. It seemed a good time to check out the ghost town before it disappears completely.
iron road
I was up by 5:30am and on the tracks heading north from Alviso an hour later. I had hoped for a beautiful sunrise, but the overcast light made for excellent landscape photography.
blue dawn

coyote creek
The only sound I heard was the occasional pop of shotguns as game hunters prowled the sloughs for waterfowl.
hunters
After a nearly three mile hike along the tracks, I came to the first abandoned structures. Drawbridge is technically closed to outsiders, but there’s nothing to stop people save for a few signs. The tracks are active, but only a couple Amtrak trains rolled through when I was there.
drawbridge

shack
The land surrounding the tracks is mostly salt marsh crisscrossed with small streams. A few of them are covered by pickleweed and nearly invisible, causing me to stumble and plunge ankle deep in mud. It’s not a particularly safe environment for high-end camera gear.
abandoned
Surprisingly, the place isn’t as overrun by graffiti as I would’ve expected.
SAC

welcome

layered
This place was the best preserved in all of Drawbridge. Pretty sure this used to be the kitchen.
kitchen

window

front yard

decay
More abandoned buildings are north along the tracks.
downtown

roof

Some great opportunities for macro decay photography.
pipe

spigot

arson
Around this time I noticed that the tide was coming in fast, causing the bay to seep out of the marsh and make further exploration difficult.
framed
The sun came out around noon, and by then Drawbridge was inundated by water.
telegraph
Rest of the Drawbridge set here.

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refinery

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Finally found a good time to slip inside the abandoned naval base at Hunters Point, and it was worth the wait. Some shots from the photo excursion:
barracks
Approaching building 600, a former barracks at the southeast tip of Hunters Point. The shipyard is the most toxic place in San Francisco, so I didn’t want to spend much time in this cesium-polluted wasteland. It took some serious problem solving to get inside this building, but it was worth it.
building 600
The building itself is a gutted shell filled with broken glass, empty lockers and ratty old mattresses.
interior

doorway
10 floors of photogenic emptiness.
living well
Living well. I didn’t come across much quality graffiti.
shattered

thousone

decay

lurker
Whole set here.

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Along with the area around Islais Creek Channel, Dogpatch is one of my favorite spots for abandoned industrial photography. The buildings are mostly inaccessible, but the exterior architecture is beautiful and easy to shoot without access. Some shots from a recent excursion:
condemned

linear

fenced

bricks

window

garage

gauge

blue

cranes

broken

derelict

haunted
Full sets here and here.

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cannery
The derelict Washington Packing Corporation tuna cannery near Islais Creek Channel is an absolute gem of an abandoned building. I first came here in 2006 and returned recently with my tripod to give it a thorough exploration. Getting inside proved to be difficult, but a little determination goes a long way.
interior

pipes
Closed since 1963 follwing a botulism scare, the cannery has surprisingly been left in a wonderful derelict state. Work crews are stripping the building of scrap metal, but some larger machines remain and it doesn’t appear to be in any immediate danger of demolition.
stop start

nuts
The cannery is home to some of the finest graffiti in San Francisco, a cathedral of pieces, burners, and tags. It’s known as the TIE building to local artists. Every accessible surface is plastered with graffiti.
phaze
Things got more interesting the deeper I explored.
pillars

drywall

camoe
Naturally, Girafa and Musk made appearances:
girafa

girafa

musk
Plantrees, too:
plantrees

plantrees

plantrees
Aerosol cans everywhere:
cans

cans

empty
What a beautiful place. Hope it sticks around for a while. Full set here.

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32 sothearos

This relic of French Indochina is one of Phnom Penh’s most photographed buildings. It’s also a bit of a mystery. Built in the 1920’s when the capital was dubbed the “Pearl of Asia,” the mansion is one of Phnom Penh’s few surviving colonial buildings. 32 Sothearos Boulevard doesn’t have a name or a recorded history, and most people refer to it as something along the lines of “that old colonial building.” A perfect example of urban decay.

colonial building

Decades of war, neglect, and decay have all taken their toll.

facade

I had photographed the building a while back, and always wanted to go inside for a more in-depth exploration.

mansion

The rent-a-cop lounging at the entrance was more interested in watching the clouds than keeping me from poking around for a while. His indifference was a little disappointing as it took away the usual thrill of infiltrating an abandoned building. The German tourist I ran into inside also didn’t help.

abandoned

All sorts of random stuff cluttered the first floor: tools, drying clothes, chairs, bags of cement, a microwave. The second floor was apparently the living quarters for the handful of construction workers that wandered about, oblivious to my presence.

abandoned

Each room seemed to have a single chair in it.

2nd floor

2nd floor

english lesson

Most abandoned buildings tend to attract graffiti, and this was no exception. Here’s an English lesson on verbs, written on a bathroom wall.

abandoned

The FCC recently purchased the building, and renovation is almost underway to transform it into a 24-room faux-colonial luxury hotel complete with pool and French bistro. Construction is supposed to start mid-2008. Preservationists must love this, but I hoped it would be turned into something more people could enjoy. At least it won’t be torn down.

doorway

Rest of the Flickr set here

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