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Thread: Most Photogenic/Atmospheric Industrial Cities & Neighborhoods

  1. #1
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    Most Photogenic/Atmospheric Industrial Cities & Neighborhoods

    Hi everyone,

    I'd like to explore (and photograph) some of the more interesting and atmospheric urban industrial neighborhoods across the USA. I don't want to trespass, but I do want to take photos from the street.

    I'm looking for:

    -- Decrepit, weedy districts containing a large number of mid-19th to early 20th century factories, mills, warehouses, foundries (abandoned or still in use), which haven't been modernized, fallen to the wrecking ball, or been converted into the dreaded "New York-style" loft condominiums.

    -- Neighborhoods extensive enough to occupy me for a day or two of exploring on foot (for example, the West Bottoms neighborhood in Kansas City, the North Broadway district in St. Louis, or large sections of Gary, Indiana).

    Apart from KC, St. Louis, and Gary, does anyone out there have a few industrially atmospheric/photogenic favorites of their own?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Gary is not that particularly interesting, too much of it is gone.

    Here are a few places where you can get your ruin pron woodie:

    Delray/Zug Island, SW Detroit MI.
    Pullman, Chicago IL South Side
    Tremont, Cleveland OH

    For one that is unreal, try Kohler WI not run down in the least but almost as old as the others.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Large areas south of downtown Rockford, IL
    Areas southwest of downtown Peoria, IL

    Out of those two, Rockford's industrial areas are a lot more spread out and intermingled with the residential neighborhoods, so I would definitely recommend it more. Very photogenic and you can definitely spend a lot of time there. Also, Rockford has a very blue-collar vibe throughout the whole city. If you're going to Chicago or Gary anyways, I would definitely recommend making the 90-minute trip out to Rockford too.
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    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    Gary is not that particularly interesting, too much of it is gone.

    Here are a few places where you can get your ruin pron woodie:

    Delray/Zug Island, SW Detroit MI.
    Pullman, Chicago IL South Side
    Tremont, Cleveland OH

    For one that is unreal, try Kohler WI not run down in the least but almost as old as the others.
    The US Steel plant in Gary is still going strong, just can't see it well from the public right of way. You don't get much more industrial than Northwest Indiana.

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jsk1983 View post
    The US Steel plant in Gary is still going strong, just can't see it well from the public right of way. You don't get much more industrial than Northwest Indiana.
    Maybe you know the secret, but I've not been able to get too close to those. In the part of Detroit I mentioned you can get right up to the steel mills.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    Maybe you know the secret, but I've not been able to get too close to those. In the part of Detroit I mentioned you can get right up to the steel mills.
    I've never gotten close to the steel mills, just now lots of abandoned places in Gary you can walk right into. Hotel, train station, stores, theater...

  7. #7
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Pittsburgh! They have a lot of formerly industrial areas and with the three rivers and over one hundred bridges (many of which are monuments to Big Steel engineering of its day) is very photogenic. I don't know Pittsburgh well, so I couldn't name specific neighborhoods, but I am sure you could find that information out without too much difficulty. I do recall the last time I was there that the city was looking to create a large park area by, I believe, the Monangahala River (I may have spelled that wrong) where, among other things, there are the remains of what was the largest steel mill in the world. The plan was to keep the site in tact as a sort of modern archaeological site - allowing it to decay onsite. The photos I saw of the interior were tremendous in terms of scale. BIG steel furnaces.

    In Albuquerque there is a great site in the railyards area. Its an old steam engine repair house - a huge steel and glass building with equipment large enough to lift the casings off of the largest steam locomotives. I believe it was the largest steam locomotive engine shop in the country, or at least the west. Go to this site to see more info on the railyards and some images of the space I mentioned. And take me with you - I've never been inside that building and have always wanted to. The Railyards are also located in an old neighborhood called Barelas that predates the US period, dating back to some of the earliest Spanish settlement in the early 1700s. Many families there still trace their history back to that time. Its a gritty, historicall impoverished area with a mix of railroad era buildings and older Spanish structures. Had been agricultural before industry and the railroad came, so also has some interesting land use patterns.
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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    Pittsburgh!
    Seconding. It's one of the most "infrastructury" cities I've visited.

    If you're in Cleveland, I'd recommend the area north of St. Clair Avenue between East 33rd and East 82nd Streets, and the Commerce Avenue area just east of downtown. They're both relatively intact, still predominantly industrial, and good for a few days of exploring. There's many other mixed old industrial/warehouse neighborhoods east of downtown, but gaps in the fabric are more common than not. They're relatively safe.

    Buffalo may seem like a natural, but the fabric of its warehouse districts were torn apart by urban renewal in the 1960s. The Hydraulics area and the grain mills along the Buffalo River might be worth a visit if you're in the area.

    It's hard to beat West Bottoms in KC for intact late 19th/early 20th century industrial fabric.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
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    I would highly recommend East Saint Louis, IL.
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jsk1983 View post
    You don't get much more industrial than Northwest Indiana.
    Very true, the sad part about Gary is that it fell apart so quickly. Up to the 70's it was still functional.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

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    Thanks for all the great suggestions so far. Keep 'em coming. I'm planning a "multi-city itinerary," so it's likely that I'll hit some of them while en route.

    One more question: is Youngstown, Ohio worth exploring? Or have most of its industrial structures already met the wrecking ball?

  12. #12
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    A very timely article in regards to this thread - Detroit may be on the verge of losing one of it's most iconic pieces of ruin pron: Owner to demolish iconic Packard Plant
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

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