New Orleans

These are all from a trip to New Orleans a friend and I took this past week. The vibrant color is real and aptly represents the positive energy of the neighborhoods we visited. Most of these were taken in the Bywater, some in the Warehouse District.

 

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Last week I wrapped up another road trip. We drove form NYC to Florida to visit friends and relatives, and to get some relief from the cold. On the way we stopped for lunch at South of the Border. It wasn’t how I remembered it – but my first visit was on one of those a dark, rainy nights where the world is all but invisible..

I was here only once before, years ago. My parents were stationed in Orlando, Florida and I was going to school in upstate New York. After freshman year I accepted a ride from an acquaintance who lived in Miami. He had a van, long hair, and he drank a lot of coffee and smoked a lot of cigarettes between Annandale and Orlando. I was feeling crummy the whole trip – the last night at school had been celebratory and I probably smoked two packs of cigarettes along with whatever we all drank at the final party of the year. So I quit. I’d been smoking since I was eleven, I was addicted, but that was it – I just didn’t want to ever smoke another cigarette – so I didn’t. Still haven’t.

My driver wanted to go straight, without stopping, all the way to Florida. He mentioned dinner at South of the Border – something to look forward to. Other than that he didn’t say one word to me the whole ride, and, since he was a graduating senior on his way to law school that fall I was too intimidated to start up a conversation. I remember it was raining – dreary. Finally we pulled into the small metropolis that was SOTB and walked into a shabby little building where you had to order at the counter then take your food to a table nearby or out to the car. It was crowded.

After several minutes on line my companion stepped up to the counter and ordered for both of us. A woman at his elbow received her order but told the counter attendant to take it back. “He breathed over my food” she said. Loudly and glaring in our direction. I steeled a sideways glance at my companion. He was looking down at the counter, his cheeks reddened. After some back and forth the lady was brought a new dinner – the styrofoam container sealed shut. We stepped aside to let her pass.

We took our food to the car. We ate in silence. My friend drove. I slept a bit after that, and when we arrived in Orlando he helped me to the door with my bags, said hello to my parents and went on his way.

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Dyker Heights Christmas Spectacle

NYC Outside the Lines

Frederick Johnson had a good deal to do with the development of this neighborhood in the late nineteenth century. Before it’s transition to a suburban development Dyker Heights was designated as farm land; crops included grains, fruits and vegetables. What began as a largely Anglican enclave evolved into an Italian neighborhood as those immigrants began pouring in during the first half of the twentieth century. Many of the homes were converted to Mediterranean style with notable statuary and topiary adorning their well-manicured yards. Sometime in the 1980’s the residents began outdoing each other with fabulous displays of light and color during the Christmas season. Now Dyker Heights is known as the number one destination for fans of Christmas light displays. I visited at dusk and was enthralled by the transformation as the sun set and the lights clicked on.

I’m looking forward to revisiting the area in the spring. The…

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Outside the Lines – a limited edition book of photographs by Madeline Wilson

The ICP Bookstore hosted a signing of my new, limited edition book, Outside the Lines, featuring work from my abandoned series on Friday, December 12. The book is nearly sold out but I have a few copies left. Look for the announcement of the second printing later this winter. Thank you for visiting the site!

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For inquiries about purchasing a book or prints of the photographs you can reach me at madelinewilson@optonline.net

Close to Home

 

Sometimes it’s a good idea to stop the car and explore that abandoned building you’ve been passing on the way to Yonkers for the past 25 years. I actually got out of the car to check out what’s what with that. Next, I travelled 1/2 mile down the street and turned into the drive to the Lenoir Preserve. The last time I was here was the only time – with my young daughters to visit the nature center about ten years ago. This time I walked to the edge of the property and found an abandoned mansion with an insanely antebellum theme going on in the garden. I didn’t hop the wall today, but stole some images from a safe distance. Finally, on to Untermeyer Park, less then a mile from Lenoir, to move beyond the boundaries and photograph the edges of that site.

This is not my last visit to any of these places; just a start.  Here’s a sample of what I found exploring closer to home.

 

Fall at the Catskill Game Farm

I visited the game farm again this fall and found a deeper connection with the place. The longer I spent walking the grounds the more my perceptions of the site changed. I had about an hour at the beginning to be completely alone in the park – my mind went to bears in the Catskills – and why wouldn’t they be attracted to a former zoo where goats and rabbits roam freely and abundantly? I shook that off and continued to the far side of the park – the area I had to rush through the first time, and then made my way back toward the entrance. It was a beautiful fall day and a good one to be exploring outside; many of these are landscapes around the farm that I missed my first visit

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The Trolly Graveyard

This was one of the most fun and rewarding shoots I’ve done since I started the abandoned series. We went to a trolly graveyard in the rust belt. The owner of the trains collects these full-sized original train, trolly cars and buses and he keeps them on his property. They have taken on a lovely patina, and I’m intrigued by the way the sunlight describes the interiors of the cars. Enjoy!

Round 2 – Catskills!

Cheryl, Cris and I spent an hour or so looking for Tamarack Lodge, a former vacation spot in the Catskills. The Lodge started out as a B and B and evolved into a resort that almost, but didn’t quite, rival Grossinger’s and Kutsher’s. The resort has passed through several lives in recent years, including one as an Indian Casino. It’s now owned by the local Yeshiva, and seems to be in line to become a condo development, but that remains to be seen.

We finally found the site and walked in to begin photographing. There was abundant decay, but in among the rubble also evidence of good times. It looked like it was once a really nice, peaceful retreat.

These are just a few of the images captured that day.

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The Elevator Shaft
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Bathroom Tiles
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The Pool
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The Pink Room
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The Blue Room
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Seen through the Air Conditioner Slot
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GasBoy: No Smoking
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Passageway

 

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Headboards
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Overview

My 8 hour Mini Road Trip

radutch_72So I was supposed to attend a workshop the day after I visited the Flight 93 Memorial, but it was postponed due to incoming inclement weather – a good call, as it turned out. So I hauled out the laptop and plotted an itinerary for the day to take advantage of some interesting stops between Western PA and my home in City Island, NY. This is what I came up with:

Bredford, PA – the giant coffeepot cafe

City Island, PA – just had to stop there!

Roadside America in Shartlesburg, PA

Centralia, PA

Within one minute of leaving my motel I passed this:

 

Silversign_72Okay, so this was going to be a good trip. I love drive-in theaters and this one was a beauty.

 

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concession_72This theater even had the old speakers you attach to the window. What a find!

Next, the Coffeepot. It used to be a little diner, but now it’s a minor attraction in the town of Bedford. It’s located right across the street from the fairgrounds.

 

coffeepot_72On to City Island (PA). I just had to stop here – it was on the way. City Island sits in the middle of the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg, the state capital. There’s a minor league ballpark, an arcade, a little children’s train, a playground and a park. The beach is closed and so is the bathhouse – I would love to have been able to get inside that building.

 

bathhouse_72This little mural was hiding behind a railing near the bridge – not at all in character with the place yet reminiscent of our City Island, in the Bronx.

 

muralOddly, the shape of this much smaller island is very similar to our City Island.

City Island, PA                                                                                        City Island, NY

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Next stop, Roadside America. This attraction is the massive miniature village, town – world? 8,000 square feet, 18 trains and trolleys (yes, it’s a train set), 10,000 trees, etc – created by Laurence Gieringer, all by hand and described as “an enchanted miniature land of yesterday and tomorrow”. You just have to go and see it. This was my second visit after 30 years and it looked exactly the same. I think it was the same woman taking tickets at the entrance, too. And she hasn’t aged a bit – still hovering around 60.

 

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corner_72He even created tourist attractions for the little people in the town. This is a cavern:

 

caverns_72So that was fun. On the way back to the interstate I passed this:

 

steamboat_72A steamboat sitting on somebody’s lawn.

 

stern2_72I wanted to get inside that, too. But it wasn’t meant to be.

So – two nice surprises bookended my little adventure last Sunday: the drive-in theater and the steamboat. I didn’t make it to Centralia. I decided it was getting late – weather was moving in and I had to try to make the GWB before horrendous Sunday evening traffic ratcheted up. I felt the pull, though, and I’ll definitely schedule it into my next trip out to PA.

This turned out to be a good trip.

The Flight 93 Memorial: Stoneycreek Township, PA

I traveled out to western Pennsylvania for a workshop and found the Flight 93 Memorial on the way. I decided to stop and take a look. I had experienced the the devastation of the Trade Center towers up close, and the experience of reliving the events of 9/11 through the eyes of those who witnessed the path of flight 93 offered a new and sobering perspective.

It’s a long and winding road up to the site of the crash. I was immediately impressed by the landscape; the area looks different from everything around it, as if it was designed for a specific purpose apart from the farms and small towns surrounding it.

 

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The topography was reminiscent of Montana – not how one envisions Pennsylvania.

As you drive in toward the site, you are greeted by rows of trees planted in honor of those who perished on flight 93:

 

trees_72Next, the parking lot, flanked by a series of placards with historical information and describing the layout of the memorial and the plans for the 2200 acre site:

 

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since911board_72The memorial is a simple but powerful design, and it involves a journey. You can begin at the assembly area where docents tell the story of flight 93. I arrived too late for the lecture, which was fine with me.

 

Theater_72Visitors walk along a long, low, black granite wall that was designed to follow the path that the plane took once it hit the top of the hill. The plane had taken off from Newark, bound for San Francisco after a 30 minute delay. Because of this delay, some of the passengers learned of the attacks on the Twin Towers by cell phone around the same time the hijackers stormed the cockpit. They surmised that flight 93 was meant to be part of the attack, and realized the flight had taken an abrupt turn off course, toward Washington, DC. They rallied, forced their way into the cockpit themselves and brought the plane down to avoid reaching the terrorists’ target.

This is the path the flight took after turning upside down and hitting the field at 563 mph:

 

walkway_72Tourists like to photograph their loved ones at this site. Others leave offerings to the memories of the victims in niches along the way:

 

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If you look closely you can see a golden boulder out in the field beyond the wall. This marks the point where the plane came to rest, in pieces strewn all along the path.

 

boulder_72The wall ends at a series of marble panels about 8 feet high. Each is marked by the name of one of the 44 victims. Visitors leave flowers and artifacts here, too.

 

beamer_72Walking along the black wall, envisioning what happened that day, witnessing the sobriety of the other visitors, and their silences was a powerful experience.

There is a lot of construction going on at the site. A museum is going up at the top of the hill, at the point of impact, seconds after local residents spotted the plane flying upside-down. At the bottom of the hill they are building a walkway. I’m not sure where that leads, or what purpose it serves, but maybe I’ll return one day and find out.

 

future_72One of the more striking aspects of my visit was that the day was so similar to September 11, 2001. Clear, warm and beautiful – it brought back that day with startling clarity.