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Saturday, November 27, 2010

First Annual Cincy Urbex Calendar

Just in time for the holidays, the first annual Cincinnati Urban Exploration (Urbex) Calendar is now on sale! The calendar includes photos seen here on Local Architecture as well as photos from our friends at Queen City Disco. It's only $19.99, and makes an excellent present for the holidays. Check out the preview below:




As digital calendars and mobile devices are becoming less and less popular, there's no cooler way to keep track of the date than a paper wall calender.






Try coupon code "PHOTOGIFT355" through the end of November to get 30% off! Make sure to check the comments below for any other deals and sales that will take place between now and the end of the year.



Monday, November 15, 2010

House With a View

Fellow explorer Lance DeLune and myself have had our eyes on this smaller residential building for some time. Built in 1875, it's similar to many of the buildings found throughout the Over-the-Rhine area of Cincinnati, except for its location midway up the steep hillside adjacent to the neighborhood. The building sits on an isolated street, most of the other buildings around it have been torn down over the past few decades. The location offers an excellent view, but at a price; Cincinnati's hillsides are made up of loose soil and clay, which makes it very difficult to build a foundation upon. This building doesn't seem like it will stand for much longer, as the foundation is sliding down the hill, and has been, slowly, for 135 years.

Nevertheless, after being left open to the elements for many years, this old apartment building made for a small, but interesting exploration. Lance, myself, and a new groupie Dana Barrett took a peek around:

Looking out the front windows over Cincinnati
Looking out the front windows over Cincinnati.

There isn't a window left in the entire building, but the ground floor is boarded up fairly tight, making it really dark. There is some junk left around, and there are gaping holes in the floors.

Abandoned apartment building
The ground floor was boarded up tightly and crowded with junk.

The second floor is a lot more open to the elements. There are no windows at all, it's likely that they were removed and salvaged for use somewhere else. The building was mostly empty, sans some junk that was probably brought in by transients after it had become abandoned. It wasn't clear if some homeless had spent the night, or some hipsters had just hung out; the line between hipster and homeless is so blurred.

Abandoned apartment building
A room on the second floor of the building.

Abandoned apartment building

Abandoned apartment building

Abandoned apartment building

Abandoned apartment building

The basement was the last stop. It was also pretty empty, and tiny. Dana was the only one who could stand up down here. We took a few photos, then got out.

Abandoned apartment building
In the basement.

Abandoned apartment building



Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rooftops

Blog posts have been few and far between this summer. I've been working a lot, at an internship in New York City, and there really aren't a whole lot of abandoned buildings here. What there are a lot of, however, are rooftops. While rooftops aren't abandoned in the traditional sense, they are within the realm of forgotten space. With the exception of a roof garden or deck here and there, most roofs are never occupied. This is truly a shame, because the view from most (especially in a place like New York City) is amazing:

New York City roof view
Typical view from a rooftop in Queens.

New York City roof view
Another typical view from a rooftop in Queens.

The last two photos were taken from the roof under which I live in New York. It's quite a roof, but going there encouraged me to visit a few others, as well.

New York City roof view

New York City roof view

New York City roof view

New York City roof view

New York City roof view

It's a shame architects and every day users of buildings don't think of the "fifth facade" more often. The views from, to, and off of rooftops are (like many abandoned buildings usually shown on this site) often overlooked.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Abandoned Buildings & Street Art

I personally don't contribute to the street art scene, but the architecture I'm interested in and the photographs I enjoy taking are intertwined with it, as most of the photos on this blog have shown over the years.

There are plenty of people who sneak around abandoned buildings, subways, tunnels, etc. but the largest (and most vocal) two groups are those who are there to take photos, and those who are there for graffiti. For whatever reason, almost everyone who falls into one of those two categories thinks very poorly of anyone who's in opposite category. Personally, I don't care. Abandoned buildings are supposed to have graffiti, just as they're supposed to be slowly decaying. Sure, some of the graffiti stinks, but some of it is good, and all of it together is beautiful:

Crosley Roof
Graffiti adorns the roof of the Crosley Building in Cincinnati.

This leads us, though, to another development that's taken shape over the last few years: mainstream street art. More commonly known as sellouts, mainstream street artists are those who you've probably heard of. Shepard Fairey is the first name that comes to mind. Fortunately I never got to see his work pop up around Cincy a few months ago (because I've been living in New York since then), but our friends at Queen City Disco had an excellent review of it. More recently, people have been in tears over the mysterious (or not so mysterious) disappearance of a few of his "murals."

What strikes me most about this is the extreme double standard shown by not only the public and the media (which I've come to terms with), but by the world of artists, critics, etc. Fairey's work is met with acclaim for its "street art roots," and "social commentary," meanwhile actual street art is met with the exact opposite. The public and the media are up in arms if it isn't painted over.

Crosley Roof
I find this to be attractive, not blighted.

While it's strictly a matter of opinion, there's more art on any given wall of the Crosley Building than there is on any Cincinnati wall Fairey has touched. Sure, some of it is bad and simply a product of punk kids, but some is intriguing and attractive. In comparison, Fairey's work is mass produced, often times by crews of employees, rather than himself. It's the McDonald's of street art. People only like it because they know what they're going to get. Sure, it can be a little bit risqué here and there, but for the most part the Adobe Illustrator graphics pasted up are repetitive, lack originality, and have absolutely nothing to do with their surroundings. A city full of Fairey murals is like any suburban cul-de-sac in America.

To rationalize this post (because it's unlike anything else I've posted before), what originally got me thinking about this topic was something I heard from a few friends here in NYC, and have since read about online. Essentially, a wall that had been the product of decade's worth of street art was covered up and replaced with a typical Fairey mural. The New York Times has written a reaction about the event. The article is wrong on a few accounts, however. There is some type of unwritten code to leave other peoples work alone, but the Times fails to note that it is based upon respect; a respect that is most often mutual. There is no respect in covering up decade's worth of work, hiring a security guard to watch over your hours worth of work, and then arrogantly whining about it afterward (Shephard Fairey's reaction to the ordeal: "I think I’m a target for a lot of narrow-minded people who just aren’t comfortable with my multiplatform approach.") I'm sure he (with his very open mind) considered and dismissed the multitude of other reasons his work could have been covered up, only to arrive at the one that held himself in the highest regard.

Shephard Fairey, Canal Street
A touched-up Fairey mural on Canal St. in New York, courtesy 12 oz. Prophet.

To conclude, I take photos of places I find to be appealing. I'll stop short of calling them beautiful, but they attract the gaze of myself, and plenty of others. The street art found in these places is one of the aspects that contributes to the ambiguous aura they possess. I'll finish with a few photos, and hope someone can explain to me the double standard the world has regarding street art.

Mill Creek Rooftop
The faded Gilley's Gin sign complemented by a touch of graffiti.

Michigan Central Station
Michigan Central Station has long functioned as a canvas for street art.

White Man Inc.
A subtle, but nice touch. I appreciate that the style matches the column grid numbering.

Detroit Mushrooms.
If it said "Obey" somewhere on it, it would have a security guard.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Porkopolis Square

Porkopolis Square is a fictional skyscraper being constructed somewhere in Ohio. Climbing a real skyscraper would probably be a fun, but extremely dumb thing to do. Besides, here at Local Architecture our correspondents usually just sneak into old abandoned buildings. Sneaking into 600 foot unfinished skyscrapers isn't our business. They would probably have unclimbable fences and security guards anyways.


Porkopolis Square
This is what a view from a skyscraper under construction would look like.


Porkopolis Square
The view over the edge of the floor slab.


Porkopolis Square
The view 400' down the mechanical shaft.


Porkopolis Square
This is about 3/4 of the way to the top, I think.


Porkopolis Square
Looking straight down at the cranes building the parking garage and lobby rotunda.


Porkopolis Square
Panorama of downtown from floor 30 or so. Click to enlarge.


Porkopolis Square
Apparently they hadn't finished the stairs.


Porkopolis Square
Looking through the floor down a future mechanical/plumbing chase of some sort.


Porkopolis Square
This is what Porkopolis probably looks like from down the street at Mike Brown Stadium.


Porkopolis Square
The tower under construction, as seen from a nearby rooftop.

For some more photos and info, check out the post from our friend Gordon Bombay at Queen City Disco.

If you're interested and want to stay updated, follow the blog on Facebook and Twitter.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Local Architecture Goes to New York

Despite my considering Cincinnati my life long home, I've been spending half of my life the past two or three years in New York at various internships as part of my undergrad, and now my graduate degree in architecture at the University of Cincinnati. Last week I moved back, and this time it's for quite awhile.. I'll be living in NYC until September. In other words, Local Architecture won't be quite so local for the next few months.

Work will carry on, though. There's abandoned buildings and things to climb here as well. Unfortunately, since I arrived five days ago it's rained about 6 inches, so I haven't been exploring much of anything. I did, however, get a chance to explore my roof. So I'll start out my tour de NYC with a few photos of the sun setting over Manhattan via my roof in Astoria in Queens (a lot of these are super hi-res, so click on them to get the full view):

Manhattan Skyline panorama
12,000 pixel wide Panorama of the sun setting over Manhattan. It will take awhile to download, but it's worth it. Click on the picture above to see the full-rez version (it's actually only about 1/3 of the actual photo, but I don't have the bandwidth to hand out a 30MB photo).

Manhattan skyline from Astoria
The view from the roof, still kind of cool despite the gentrified condo tower blocking a bit of it.

Manhattan skyline from Astoria
CitiGroup Center and Rockefeller Center as seen from my roof.

Manhattan skyline from Astoria
Wide angle shot, showing some of the neighborhood I live in, Astoria.

Manhattan skyline from Astoria
Astoria Queens in the foreground, Manhattan skyline in the background. I love this neighborhood; it's got just enough grunge to keep me happy.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Cincinnati Subway

The Cincinnati Subway is by far the most famous abandoned subway on the planet. It's also one of Cincinnati's most infamous landmarks, and aside from randomly scheduled and extremely expensive tours, no one ever gets to see it. Conveniently, it's a stones throw away from the Local Architecture headquarters. So myself and Gordon Bombay from Queen City Disco decided it was about time to make a visit.

Cincinnati Subway - Brighton Station
The east (uptown bound) platform of Brighton Station.

The subway was built by the City of Cincinnati between 1920 and 1925. Seven miles of the line were constructed in some way, from downtown Cincinnati beneath Central Parkway, and on up to Norwood. Construction was stopped in 1925 when the city ran out of money to continue. The project ran extremely over budget as a result of inflation. The bonds taken out to provide the funding for the project were taken in 1916, shortly before the US entered WWI. As a result of the war effort, construction was put on hold until 1920. By the end of the war, inflation had made the $6 million worth of bonds worth just a fraction of what they had been 4 years prior, and the budget for the project had more than doubled due to increased supply and labor costs. Currently, there's a little over two miles of tunnel that exist, and four underground stations. To read up about more of the history of the subway, visit Cincinnati Transit.

On a beautiful, calm night the gang and myself set out to find the hidden entrance into the subway. While most of the old entrances that visitors of the past have snuck in through have been sealed, as we have found with most abandoned buildings... it's very near impossible to seal a place up entirely. Especially one that's two miles long.

Cincinnati Subway - Photos Underneath Central Parkway
In front of us: nearly two miles of abandoned subway tunnels.

We were in pretty easily, with all our gear and enough flashlights to suit an apocalypse. The hustle of late night, after hours downtown Cincinnati continued above us, but we enjoyed the eerie, serene scene that was the abandoned subway. All in all, it was one of the most well planned and executed series of trips we've been on in awhile. The fact that the destination was a major historic icon probably played a part in that.

The following images are arranged station by station, starting from the southernmost station at Race St. to the northernmost remaining station, Brighton Corner.

Race St. Station

Cincinnati Subway - Diagram

The Race St. Station is the largest station in the system, and would have been one of the main downtown hubs. It's the only station that has a central platform, and three tracks (the center track is a stub on either side).

Cincinnati Subway - Race Street Station
Race St. Station is composed of three tracks with a large, central platform.

Cincinnati Subway - Race Street Station
Looking down the abandoned Race St. Station platform to the west.

Cincinnati Subway - Race Street Station
The eastern approach to the Race St. Station. One of the tunnels is now home to a water main.

Liberty St. Station

Cincinnati Subway - Diagram

The Liberty St. Station is the first stop north of Race Street. This station is infamously well known for Cincinnati's attempt to retrofit it as a faux-fallout shelter during the 1950's and 1960's, under the false pretenses that A) Cincinnati was important enough to even be a target, and B) the entire population would be able to survive together in a tunnel with a few boxes of "survival biscuits" for longer than about 10 minutes.

Cincinnati Subway - Liberty Street Station
Liberty St. Station. The fencing and lights were presumably installed during the fallout shelter retrofit.

Cincinnati Subway - Liberty Street Station
The platform at Liberty St. The booth was of newer construction, and likely a part of the fallout shelter.

Linn St. Station

Cincinnati Subway - Diagram

Linn St. Station is the least exciting of all the stations, because it's been completely sealed over at the edge of the platform. I'm not sure why it was down, but it seemed as if Linn St. would have looked very similar to the upcoming Brighton Corner Station.

Cincinnati Subway - Linn Street Station
Linn Street Station is sealed off completely.

Brighton Station

Cincinnati Subway - Diagram

Brighton Station is the northernmost subway stop that was built, past this point a few more above ground stations were built at places like Ludlow Avenue, Clifton Avenue, etc. on the route up through Norwood. Brighton was my personal favorite station because it represented what would have otherwise been the standard station, had the rest of the system been built. The other stations all have their eccentricities: Race St. being the hub, Liberty St. being a bomb shelter, and Linn St. being nothing but a solid concrete wall. That said, my favorite photos came from Brighton.

Cincinnati Subway - Brighton Station
Looking at the platform, and up the long sealed stairs to the street above. One of the gang, Lance Delune, was up the stairs with a flashlight.. it was 3:00am and the stairs end in a solid concrete slab, so there's no outside light coming in at all, ever.

Cincinnati Subway - Brighton Station
Looking south down the tunnel. The uptown bound platform is on the left, and the water main can be seen in the other tunnel to the right.

Cincinnati Subway - Brighton Station
The downtown bound platform, the water main is visible on this side of the station.

Cincinnati Subway - Brighton Station
The entrance on the downtown bound side, looking into the subway platform and track area. There are stairs and provisions for bathrooms to the right and left of where this photo was taken.

The Tunnels

The rest of the shots were taken in the tunnels themselves. Besides the stations, the two miles of tunnels have some interesting features as well.

Cincinnati Subway - Abandoned Tunnels

Cincinnati Subway - Abandoned Tunnels

Cincinnati Subway - Abandoned Tunnels

Cincinnati Subway - Abandoned Tunnels

Cincinnati Subway - Abandoned Tunnels

Cincinnati Subway - Abandoned Tunnels
The gang - part of C8P

Be sure to check out Queen City Disco for some more photos of the subway. And remember to follow Local Architecture on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with the latest updates!


 

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