[Editor's note: It's Labor Day, so your devoted Flavorwire team is taking a break. To keep you entertained, we're leaving you with our most popular features of the summer months. This post originally ran August 13th.] The Storefront for Art & Architecture, our favorite Little Italy-adjacent nonprofit organization, has organized a photo exhibition exploring the post-Olympic city. Answering the question, what happens to a city after the Olympics are gone, the show features The Olympic City project, an ongoing collaboration between photographer Jon Pack and indie filmmaker Gary Hustwit of Helvetica design docu fame.
As the show’s catalog states, “some former Olympic sites are retrofitted and used in ways that belie their grand beginnings; turned into prisons, housing, malls, gyms, churches. Others sit unused for decades and become tragic time capsules.” We’re as horrified as we are fascinated by the fact that billions of dollars are spent every two years only to see such a sad — sometimes bizarre — fate. From abandoned Olympic villages to crumbling public art commissions, click through to check out the very best of Olympic ruin porn. Then let us know in the comments what you think about such a temporary extravagance. Should cities re-think the Olympics? Will London’s flashy stadiums look like this one day?
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Many of the photos in Vincent J. Stokers‘ series Heterotopia: The Tragic Fall look like they were snapped on the set of a previously undiscovered Stanley Kubrick film. These abandoned spaces found around the world — an unlikely mixture of control centers, theaters, bath houses, and spots we can’t place — as Stoker explains it, are “detached from the commonly established relation to time and have entered a temporality of their own. The linear and sovereign time of the watch is replaced with the slow, soft and suspended time of ruins, with the one of the humanist accumulation of the stored knowledge, or with the ever-frozen time of photography.” Thanks to a combination of strong lines, geometric shapes, and faded colors, the resulting images are perversely beautiful, while possessing a magical narrative quality — the viewer can’t help but imagine what once was before the decay. Click through to check out his work, which we spotted thanks to our friends over at iGNANT.
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Since 1990, tourists from across America and around the world have known Ellis Island as both a historic (and ethically problematic) gateway to the US and the home of an immigration museum that everyone who grew up in the Tri-State Area has visited at least once on a field trip. But there’s more to the island than the shiny restoration that’s open to the public. How to Be a Retronaut points us to Paul Margolis’ darkly illuminating series of photos, taken in 2002, that document the neglected south side of the island. “These buildings served prosaic and often sad purposes: they were the wards and medical facilities,” Margolis writes. “They had a haunting beauty, with their subtle, almost monochromatic colors: greens and rust, old brick and peeling plaster.” See the Hidden Ellis Island photos after the jump, then visit Margolis’ website for more of his work, much of which focuses on Jewish identity and life in and around New York City.
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Last week, we clicked through a gallery over at Gawker documenting the still-ruined state of Six Flags New Orleans and marveled at the strange, surreal beauty of the destroyed theme park. Abandoned spaces are always interesting in their own way, particularly, to our minds, when nature begins to reclaim something forced upon it by man, but we think abandoned amusement parks are especially fascinating. After all, much like clowns and small children singing, the pomp and wild colors of many amusement parks are only barely to one side of the line between happy and ominous. It all depends on how the light is hitting them. Though these theme parks have definitely crossed over into creepy, we think there’s something beautiful and nostalgic about them, reminders of an age that seems to be slowly dying. Click through to see our gallery of abandoned amusement parks from all over the world, and let us know what you think in the comments.
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Gawker has posted a breathtaking gallery of shots from abandoned Brooklyn movie palace Kings Theater by Matt Lambros, a photographer who’s currently at work on a documentary about America’s ghost cinemas. So fascinated were we by the images that we had to visit Lambros’s website and check out his other work. We learned that the artist is something of a specialist in places that have been lost to progress. “As a society we move very fast, building new and better things, often leaving the old ones behind,” he writes. “This has always captivated me, and that started me on the road to becoming a photographer.” And then, we stumbled upon a beautifully melancholy, powerfully lit, and occasionally chilling series of abandoned hospital photos. Page through them after the jump.
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Previously in ain’t-it-cool news, we told you about Obscura Day, where people across the globe were invited to join the “international celebration of curious places” sponsored by Atlas Obscura, a guide to the world’s wonders, curiosities, and esoterica. On March 20, participants tagged pictures uploaded to Flickr with #obscuraday to aggregate their discoveries. The pictures are plentiful and the time-wasting possibilities limitless. We’ve rounded up a few key picks for your viewing pleasure, after the… Read More
The series “After You Left They Took It Apart” contains elements of our favorite things: architecture, abandoned places, and sharp photography. Photographer Chris Mottalini shot three Paul Rudolph-designed homes just before they were to be demolished in an effort to let the images act as a “representative of a tragic disregard for mid-century architecture.” (Another fun fact to puzzle over: Mottalini is color blind.)
Get familiar with Mottalini and Rudolph after the jump in our exclusive image… Read More
In 1958, real estate developer and sociology professor Nat Mendelsohn purchased 320 square kilometers of Mojave desert paradise with the aim of turning it into the so-called California City, and urban paradise whose size would rival that of Los Angeles. The idealized city would be centered around a lush park — stocked with flora non-indigenous to the desert and watered up the wazoo, naturally — complete with a gigantic artificial lake. As you may have interpreted from the ghostly grid pictured above, Mendelsohn’s utopian vision fell flat, and California City is left as a “mirage of suburbia in the middle of nowhere,” a novel relic to delight aerial… Read More
It must be our lucky day, because we just hit the motherlode of our two favorite topics: abandoned architecture and Russian oddities. Thanks to photographer Richard Davies, who has a solo show at the Museum of Finnish Architecture in Helsinki through May 30, the wider world can get a taste of the endangered, centuries-old wooden Orthodox churches indigenous to the Russian North. Davies originally stumbled upon a cache of postcards depicting the santuaries by Russian artist Ivan Bilibin, circa 1902–04 when the buildings were already in poor condition. He then took a pilgrimage (ПАЛОМНИЧЕСТВО) in Bilibin’s footsteps in an effort to preserve the area’s architectural and cultural heritage. More amazing photos after the… Read More
Many of the abandoned places we cover in New York end up with busted-out windows, vines growing up the walls, and an impending condo development. Not the case with this Liverpudlian department store by the name of Lewis’s . The landmark store had boarded up the entire fifth floor after its mid-century heyday; shuttered and untouched for almost three decades, the living time capsule was recently unearthed and documented by photographer Stephen King. (Yes, his real name.) Peep the 1950s-era diner after the jump; the circa-1970s hair salon is pictured… Read More