abandoned places


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Last Days of the Staten Island Farm Colony

Eerie ruins of the Staten Island Farm Colony

A ruined Farm Colony dormitory seen through the trees.

Part of what makes abandoned buildings so captivating is that their existence is ephemeral, they cannot remain decayed and crumbling forever, and inevitably that means saying goodbye.

Admittedly, the Staten Island Farm Colony is not one of the most spectacular places I’ve seen, (the interiors have been completely destroyed by vandalism) but it remains the one place I’ve come back to more than any other. What’s always impressed me about it is its changeability. The place is reborn with every season, and I suppose that’s true of all abandoned buildings, but I’m always struck by it at the Farm Colony. In the height of summer, its jungle-like atmosphere lends it the look of a fallen Aztec empire, which is almost unrecognizable in the cooler months. It’s haunting in the fall when the fog rolls in, and desolate in the winter when ice and snow blanket the buildings inside and out. Through 40 years of abandonment, the Farm Colony is as ever-changing as the natural world that engulfs it, but it’s looking more and more definite that this historic district will be undergoing a final, permanent transformation in the days ahead.

The Farm Colony’s existing structures.

New renderings for the “Landmark Colony,” with several buildings preserved.

Last month, the Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously approved a proposal to bring 350 units of senior housing to the site, part of a large new development called “The Landmark Colony.”  In the process, the institution is returning to its historic function as a home for the elderly after a four decade hiatus. (The place was essentially a geriatric hospital when it closed down in the 1970s, though it had been established in the mid 19th century as a refuge for the poor.)  With five buildings saved and one kept as a stabilized ruin, the design will preserve much of the area’s architectural character. The remaining structures will be demolished and replaced with modern residential units, which is to be expected considering just how far gone some of these buildings are.

Several of the places I’ve photographed in the last few years have been set aside for renovation (The Domino Sugar Refinery, the Gowanus Batcave, and P.S. 186 to name a few.)  The Smith Infirmary, the old Machpelah Cemetery office, and most troublingly, the Harlem Renaissance Ballroom have not been so lucky.  It’s rare and encouraging when a structure is fortunate enough to get a second chance in this rapidly evolving city, but as positive as these changes are for their communities, a part of me still feels like something is lost.  I know I’m not the only one who’ll miss the Farm Colony and its embattled ruins, which have become a popular spot for paintballers and Staten Island teenagers to pass the time.

Here’s a series of photos I’ve taken over the last year in sweltering heat, biting cold, snow, rain, and fog. Hopefully I make it back one last time before these ancient grounds are covered with fresh paint and brimming with active retirees year-round.


The Laundry and Industrial building will be preserved…


…As will the Dining Hall. These are the two largest open spaces in the Farm Colony.

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Daylight trickles into a dark room adjacent to the cafeteria.

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An arched walkway on a lower floor is a rare example of architectural ornament.

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The Farm Colony’s most picturesque building is sadly slated for demolition.

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But a similar dormitory on the south side of the grounds will be stabilized and preserved as a ruin.

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Snow piles up after winter storms, turning to ice when the temperature fluctuates.

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A wintry bathroom.

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This bed is one of the only remaining artifacts from the institution’s past.

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Trees silhouetted against the clouds, projected through a camera obscura on the ground floor of a residence hall.



Video inside New York’s Derelict Institutions: “A History Abandoned”

Last month Vocativ.com followed me through three decaying institutions in New York City, resulting in a three part series, “A History Abandoned” which you can check out on YouTube.  If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to venture inside an abandoned building, these videos give you a pretty good idea.  Props to Vocativ for keeping the focus on the history.  Let me know what you think and if you’d like to see more like this in the future!

Episode 1: Kings Park Psychiatric Center


Episode 2: Letchworth Village


Episode 3: New York City Farm Colony


Head over to the brand new AbandonedNYC Print Shop to pick up some high quality prints of Letchworth, Kings Park, the Farm Colony, and other NYC hospitals, factories, and military sites.





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Locals seek shelter under the Bab Mansour gate during a downpour. ☔️ #Morocco #babmansour #meknes #travel #simplymorocco #mytinyatlas #rainydays Near Bahia Palace, Marrakech. 🌵🏚🗝 #Morocco #Marrakech #olddoors #doorsofinstagram #doorsofmorocco A twisting trunk frames a pair of blue doors in the Souk des Teinturiers.
#doorsofinstagram #doorsofmorocco #marrakech #morocco #mytinyatlas #travel #door I‎t was a challenge not to stop and shoot every door in Morocco. 🚪🗝📜 Love the interplay of textures here at the shuttered entrance to Souk Serrajine.
#doorsofinstagram #doorsofmorocco #doorsoftheworld #doorsofmarrakech #morocco #travel #medina #marrakech #olddoors #simplymorocco #souk Another view of the ruined El Badi palace. 🐈🕌 The partial restoration of these arches make i‎t possible to envision how grand the place once was.  El Badi translates to “the incomparable.”
#abandoned #ruins #morocco #simplymorocco #travel #urbex #marrakech #badipalace #elbadipalace Storks nesting in the ruins of the El Badi Palace in Marrakech. 🕌🏚🐣Constructed over 15 years during the Saadian period, the palace incorporated vast amounts of gold, onyx, and marble.  In the 17th century, its 360 rooms and grand courtyard were plundered by sultans of the Alouite dynasty for use in a new palace in Meknes, leaving no trace of its former glory. Essaouira street scenes...🐂🌀🌿
#morroco #essaouira #streetphotography #color #colors_of_day #africa #travel #instatravel #travelgram #instago #passportready #wanderlust #instapassport #postcardsfromtheworld #traveldeeper#traveltheworld #wanderlust #ig_worldclub #worldcaptures #worldplaces #adventure #lonelyplanet #bbctravel #theculturetrip #artofvisuals #nakedplanet #colorful The dreamy blue and white port city of Essaouira is enclosed by an 18th century fortress.  Incredibly powerful coastal wind makes the city one of the best places in the world to windsurf, but we were content to wander the winding lanes of the médina. 🌊💨
#morroco #africa #travel #instatravel #travelgram #instago #passportready #wanderlust #instapassport #postcardsfromtheworld #traveldeeper#traveltheworld #wanderlust #ig_worldclub #worldcaptures #worldplaces #adventure #lonelyplanet #bbctravel #theculturetrip #artofvisuals #nakedplanet #mytinyatlas Detail of the exquisite ornamentation of the Bou Inania Medersa in Meknes, Morocco. ☪️
The overhanging design of this arch is known as mocárabe, or honeycomb work. 🐝
Resembling stalactites, the feature is thought to be a symbolic representation of the cave where Mohammed’s first revelation took place. 💡
#meknes #bouinania #islam #simplymorocco #morroco #africa #travel #instatravel #travelgram #instago #passportready #wanderlust #instapassport #postcardsfromtheworld #traveldeeper#traveltheworld #wanderlust #ig_worldclub #worldcaptures #worldplaces #adventure #lonelyplanet #bbctravel #theculturetrip #artofvisuals #nakedplanet Back from an incredible trip to Morocco with so many photos to sort through.  This was one of my favorite moments of the trip, touring the 14th century Bou Inania Madrasa in Meknes during a downpour.  An incredibly atmospheric location and we had the whole place to ourselves. #morocco #moroccotravel #meknes #travelphotography #mytinyatlas Ancient capital building of Volubilis near Moulay Idriss, Morocco. 🇲🇦 When the Roman Empire dipped into North Africa, Volubilis stood near its southernmost border.  Founded by Carthaginian traders in the third century BC, abandoned by the romans in 280 AD, plundered for marble and destroyed by an earthquake in 1755.  In beautiful ruin today and well worth a visit.  Amazed by the depth of history here in Morocco! #morocco #volubilis #romanruins #meknes Balanced Rock, Big Bend National Park.
#nps #nationalparks #bigbend #bigbendnationalpark #texas #westtexas #findyourpark #nps101 #rei1440project
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