We Are All in the Gutter

I don’t like this building. It was probably something really special once upon a time, but there’s nothing left here now, and it’s incredibly depressing. It is so ruined and covered in tags and dangerous (I just missed a murder here by a few days), there wasn’t even a point to stopping. And yet here I am with my pictures.

This little observatory is no hidden gem. Plenty of people know where/what it is. I spent a week in this area shooting different buildings, and the experience was just…odd. I got my fill of the place for a lifetime and will never go back.

In many ways, the observatory was one of the “cleaner” locations I shot during my week out here (if…you want to go ahead and disregard the homicide). Its story is a sad one, much like every other building in this part of the city.

Established as a gift to a local school of science in 1919, the observatory offered students decades of stargazing before light pollution from the developing city rendered it useless. In the early 1980s, it was shuttered permanently. A developer purchased the building in 2005 with plans to transform it into a unique home, but was soon after convicted of fraud and sent to jail. Wasted potential all around.

The building keeps on rotting. The city can’t afford to fix it, and it can’t afford to tear it down. It serves as a hub for drug dealers, taggers, and apparently much worse in the poor residential neighborhood it sits in.

This building echoed the mood for most of the others on this trip: disappointing and depressing.

I wanted to go shoot out here for a few days because I expected to step into a kind of abandoned wonderland. And I did. But what I didn’t expect, maybe out of stupidity, was for this suburb’s dire economic straits to be so bad. While it was awesome to hang out with great friends, exploring here wound up being more of a wake-up call to me than anything else. The buildings in this particular part of the city (and there are hundreds) are scrapped to the framework, full of rotting garbage, and several of us got extremely sick with some kind of god-awful respiratory infection that I’m still getting hammered with two weeks later.

I have hundreds more photos from this trip to edit yet, and…you’ll see my point. ‘Til then.


  1. Great images. You are a lot braver than I am, I wouldn’t dare enter the building.

  2. I was wondering which building did all of you in…this must have been a grand place at one time.

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