Ghostly Ruins: America's Forgotten Architecture

Front Cover
Princeton Architectural Press, Sep 28, 2006 - Architecture - 224 pages
We've all seen them but might have been too scared to enter: the house on the hill with its boarded-up windows; the darkened factory on the outskirts of town; the old amusement park with its rickety skeleton of a rollercoaster. These are the ruins of America, filled with the echoes of the voices and footfalls of our grandparents, or their parents, or our own youth. Where once these structures were teeming with lifecommuters, workers, vacationersnow they are disused and dilapidated.

Ghostly Ruins shows the life and death of thirty such structures, from transportation depots, factories, and jails to amusement parks, mansions, hotels, and entire towns. Author Harry Skrdla gives a guided tour of these marvelous structures at their peak of popularity juxtaposed with their current state of haunted decrepitude. Like a seasoned teller of ghost stories, Skrdla's words and images reveal what lies beyond the gates and beneath the floorboards. There are the infamous Eastern State Penitentiary and Bethlehem Steel factory in Pennsylvania, the Packard Motors Plant and Book-Cadillac Hotel in Detroit, and Philip Johnson's New York State Pavilion from the 1964/65 World's Fair. There is the entire town of Centralia, Pennsylvania, where a trash fire set inside an old mine in 1962 morphed into an underground inferno that incinerated the town from underneath; more than forty years later, the subterranean fire still rages. The town is empty now, just as the many other abandoned places in this chronicle. Ghostly Ruins is a record of the souls of yesteryear and a chronicle of America's haunted past.

 

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User Review  - phoenixcomet - LibraryThing

I have a fascination with architecture and structures. I cannot identify a particular style or type of design, but I do find old buildings and constructs to be inherently interesting. And as the book ... Read full review

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User Review  - smfmpls - LibraryThing

A haunting, well-designed book, rich in moving photographs of buildings abandoned and forgotten: the railroad depot in Detroit, mansions in upstate New York, an entire small town in Pennsylvania ... Read full review

Contents

I
12
II
24
III
26
IV
33
V
39
VI
45
VII
49
VIII
57
XIX
128
XX
131
XXI
139
XXII
147
XXIII
153
XXIV
159
XXV
167
XXVI
173

IX
63
X
69
XI
75
XII
83
XIII
91
XIV
97
XV
103
XVI
109
XVII
115
XVIII
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XXVII
179
XXVIII
183
XXIX
189
XXX
195
XXXI
201
XXXII
209
XXXIII
217
XXXIV
222
XXXV
224
Copyright

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Page 5 - I met a traveller from an antique land Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command...
Page 5 - Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed : And on the pedestal these words appear : 'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair !

About the author (2006)

Harry Skrdla is an engineer and a historic-preservation consultant based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He has contributed to the preservation and restoration of a number of noteworthy structures, including the ornate 1920s movie palace the Fox Theatre in Detroit, one of the last of its kind in America.

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