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An interesting prediction from The Big Picture about banks choosing to abandon foreclosed low-value homes, rather than pay taxes and assume responsibility for the ever-increasing inventory…

And I just read about the newly-minted phenomenon of “jingle mail” where homeowners find it easier to abandon their homes than to declare bankruptcy or get out of credit card debt.

I’ve been researching and exploring hollowed-out cities, failed amusement parks and other ventures for a few years now — and always wondered what it would take for the quick-built sprawling suburb to similarly fall out of favor. Looks like the time is now, thanks to rising oil prices and the housing crash.


Phoenix Trotting Park, a race track that closed almost as quickly as it opened in the 1960s when the price tag to complete it soared from an estimated $3 million to $10 million, effectively bankrupting its east coast builder. Other factors helped lead to its demise, however, including cold temperatures, flooding, and the long, 20-mile trek (at the time) from Phoenix. — photo and caption by Scott Haefner


I’ve been stopping into Manny’s Millinery Shop on West 38th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues) on the regular these days.

It’s the only place to get hatmaking supplies left in the Garment District, and it’s closing within the month.

Here’s a great article from the NY Sun about the end of an era. They mention a possible special commercial zone intended to protect the remaining garment industry in Manhattan…the city had better hurry, so there will be something left to protect.

A London Times article about an underground group that is now being prosecuted for fixing a historic clock in the Pantheon in Paris.

My eyes started to bug about 3/4ths of the way through! Very inspiring — renegade restoration — a step beyond the usual picture-taking and skulking around in dark outfits of urban exploration.

Amazon link to Camilo Jose Vergara’s book, American Ruins

Recommended by my friend Gayle who can be found at Urbanlandscaped.

I’ve been re-immersing myself in documentary photography, a field I studied in college under Michael Lesy…I want to set out in an RV with Jenene to document — what, I’m not exactly sure yet.

Susan Orlean’s articles are some of my favorite examples of documentary story-writing…I loved her book Saturday Night which covers how different communities spend that weekly night letting loose…

Telway 2.jpg

Originally uploaded by Reversible Skirt

The most amazing little burger joint. the whole place is about as big as my brooklyn kitchen (i.e. not big). the youngest person at the counter was probably 65. one guy kept winking exaggeratedly and making flirty faces at all the women lined up for takeout.

there is a special takeout area where you order at one window and pick it up at the adjacent window from one of the elderly waitresses who have matching dyed black hair.

you can get a bag of burgers (4) for $2. Everything else there is like $1.15 except the fries which are 65 cents. I ordered lunch for eight people and it was like $12. Also when people were ordering, they were saying all kinds of things that are not on the menu, like “Let me get three double-doubles and a triple and a neighborhood.” WTF?! I was too shy to get a tutorial unfortunately but I’m sure my newbieness was obvious when I got up there and ordered stuff that was actually listed on the menu. Viva la Telway forever.

Also everything in there is the same as it was when it opened in like 1952. I love that!

“Coney Island” means “diner” in Detroit and it also means “hot dog.” There are all different competing coney islands.

I think you could even say “I want to go to the Coney Island to get a Coney Island.” It is really weird!!

Much more to come re: Detroit.

bad education

Originally uploaded by gsgeorge
I’m heading there this month for my first visit! I’ve been reading about it for years, and writing a little about it last spring for my thesis (on arts groups reusing vacant and abandoned places.)

Stories of Detroit’s hollowing core, the farm downtown and the skyscrapers with graffiti faces in each window were part of the mythologies that led me to get interested in urbanism.

I’m going with the legendary Dark Passage crew. If anyone has tips on the unusual and unmissable — or just where we should stay — please share.

Some Detroit links:
The Fabulous Ruins of Detroit
Forgotten Detroit
Detroit Blog

Paterson Doors.jpg

Originally uploaded by Reversible Skirt

We wrapped up the project with a proposal for a monument in the shape of a spiral which overlays the map of Paterson, a path that you can follow and mark according to its significance to you. I.e., Paterson mapped by restaurants, or indigenous plant life. Paterson as defined by the special buildings that fall on the spiral. Anecdotal Paterson.

I am planning an outdoor screening of The Cousteau Odyssey Vol. 5: Clipperton: The Island Time Forgot in Red Hook, because of its maritime scenery. This will probably take place next Sunday July 29th. Please comment if you would like to come.

The Eveready Diner, image c/o

The past few weeks I’ve been lucky enough to get out of the city and visit some of the amazing diners nearby. The Eveready, in Hyde Park, New York, is a gleaming spectacle that evokes a vintage traincar inside — birds-eye wood paneling and plenty of chrome. They offer local ice cream from a nearby farm (sadly, I was way too full to have it!) This kind of place shows up a Gunther Toody’s or Johnny Rockets franchise as the overblown, corporate facsimiles they are.

Click here for a set of images in loving detail of the Egg Platter Diner’s amazing wallpaper, taken by my friend Joe.

We grabbed breakfast at the Egg Platter in Paterson, NJ — the average plate (all or most involve eggs, of course) runs about $4.

Image from the great Diner City Web site.

Today I’m posting from the sunny foyer of one of the old silk mills of Paterson, NJ. It’s now a museum in the Great Falls Historic District, which is just jammed with amazing brick buildings dating back to the early and mid-1800s. Paterson produced half of the silk made in America — hence the nickname Silk City — until labor disputes around the turn of the century such as the Silk Strike of 1913, which gave us the 8-hour workday.

I’m leading a walking tour of what’s left of these old mills (the Colt Gun Mill, pictured above, is another biggie that is mostly gone, what is left is actually crated and marked for reassembly!) today at 1pm. A lot of amazing things happened here — the first submarine was launched into the Passaic River right above the Great Falls, the first revolver was made here, and a whole lot of sailcloth was produced.

Industrialists like Catholina Lambert prospered — he built a castle on the mountain and filled it with art — a Citizen Kane-like persona. Seven of his eight children predeceased him, as did his wife Isabella (who the castle was originally named after, Belle Vista), and also her widowed sister, who Catholina married after his wife’s death. He continued to live in the castle until his death in 1923.