All posts by Julia Solis

I Want To Curate Rot

  In this museum – otherwise known as a shuttered regional hospital – a special room is dedicated to the science of deterioration. Enter this glass-framed exhibition space and you can admire an astonishing specimen of wall decomposition with its characteristic folds of drooping paint. Stay as long as you like, the show will only get better. There is even a bench for those who would like to sit and sketch or simply contemplate the epidermal changes in the scenery. All that’s missing are a

Three Doors, Three Years

  Above, the upper floor of a mental hospital building as seen in December 2006. Below are the same three doors in December 2007 (top) and December 2008. The green door took a hit; otherwise there are surprisingly few changes, even though this area no longer has a roof. If it's still possible to return in December 2009, it will have been a good year.    


  In this formerly communist-run hospital, a soldier guards a dilapidated fuse box. It's unclear whose side he's on; maybe he's just trying to protect himself from falling paint chips. In the meantime, a power outlet has been conquered further down the hall.     But an even more subtle infiltration can be seen in the outer territories of the soldier's post.     The drawings around the windows at first blend in like intricately textured

Revisiting the Ostwall

  The last visit to the Ostwall -- an underground fortification system in Poland built by the Nazis to defend against a Russian invasion -- was so impressive that it was high time to return. Germany began building the system in 1935 with a planned length of around 80 miles (second only to the Maginot line) at a depth of about 70 feet beneath the bucolic countryside. About 20 miles of underground tunnels were finished, with a rail line, machine shops, munitions warehouses, hospitals

Mall of the Apocalypse

  Apparently the zombies already rolled through here a few years ago, when this site was used as the set of a horror flick. So the worst has passed. Instead of an unattractive, flesh-eating mob of cadavers, which would seem the most appropriate life form here, all that can now be expected are the ghosts of desiccated cashiers and shoe salesmen, squinty tech experts from the 70s and the dreaded proponents of rayon slacks. Luckily the escalator is out of commission to spare us the

Miniature Ruins

  The setting is "Splendid China", a shuttered theme park in the South. Long before the Bird's Nest, this leisure park was designed to introduce Americans to the delights of Chinese architecture. To that end, little replicas of buildings and monuments were scattered across the grounds. The workmanship of China, made in the USA, is exquisite. The decorations on the tiny houses are best seen with a magnifying glass. And here too, the truly fine details of a building are often only

Reading Gary

    In the great heap of architectural detritus that makes up downtown Gary, Indiana, this small abandoned structure did not immediately seem striking. Marked "East Side Branch Library", it sits amidst burnt-out houses and is itself entirely gutted. But I thought that my friend Gayle, who works at the New York Public Library and writes on urbanlandscaped, would enjoy some snapshots. Upon closer inspection, the building revealed interesting details - open books carved above

Buried in the Woods

  Recent talk about how to commemorate the patient cemetery of Western State Hospital, where patients were buried for 160 years with only a number on their tombstones, once again calls attention to the sporadic dehumanization of the mentally ill. In this case, among other things, the separation of a body from its name. Burying patients without clear identification was standard practice across the country. Nonetheless, stumbling across one of those grave sites unexpectedly - like the


... this travelogue

Explorations and ruminations about time capsules near and far, with an eye towards the structures, textures and playgrounds of decay. A companion blog for

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