I’ve been documenting the ship since 1999, with about 40 photographs on this website. Many of the then/now composites were featured in the recent PBS documentary, SS United States, Lady in Waiting. I’m hoping to add more soon. Continue reading
While active it was known as the Newark Works of the Westinghouse Company. Located at 95 Orange Street, the first section was completed in 1884 and the plant eventually spread over four and a half acres with 400,000 square feet of space. Over the next hundred years, the Newark Works made watt-hour meters, protective relays, loudspeakers for early radios, recording instruments, trolley motors, electrical switchboards, voltmeters, street arc lamps and electric fans. There were even “secret activities” reportedly conducted during World War II.
The factory played an important role in the history of broadcasting. In 1922, WJZ, the second licensed radio station in the country, started broadcasting from a shack on the factory roof. The call letters, WJZ, stood for New Jer(Z)sey. That same year WJZ made broadcasting history with up-to-the-minute reports of the World Series between the New York Yankees and New York Giants. A reporter phoned in game updates from the Polo Grounds that were then relayed over the airwaves. The World Series coverage spurred sales of Westinghouse radios. That year WJZ also installed the first on-air “kill switch” after a performer, who promised not to mention her support of birth control, still got her message across when she changed a word in a Mother Goose rhyme, “There was an old woman who lived in a shoe, she had so many children because she didn’t know what to do.”
A few years later, after other radio stations opened in New York City, the station moved to New York so it could better compete for talent that didn’t want to make the trip to Newark. The station’s call letters were later changed to WABC.
At its peak there were 3,000 employees at the Westinghouse Work. After the Newark riots of 1967, in which 26 were left dead, hundreds injured and millions of dollars in property damage, many businesses started moving out of the city and production at the Westinghouse plant slowed, ending completely in 1983 when a new factory was opened in Florida.
New Jersey Transit, which operated the Broad Street railroad station next door, as well as an architectural salvage company later occupied sections of the plant, until concerns about toxic contamination rendered further occupancy unsafe. Plans to turn the factory into a “carrier hotel” full of Internet servers fell through, and with no other viable plans for reuse, demolition began in November 2007. By the following summer all that remained were the foundations and a massive pile of brick rubble. The site will likely be turned into a parking lot and “land banked” until the economy turns around and the land can be developed.
Built in 1922 and abandoned in 1965, it is a massive structure with 54 silos and sits across from the Ikea store in Red Hook. Continue reading
My final trip to Woody Guthrie’s “Wardy Forty,” just one week ahead of the wrecking ball. Continue reading
The abandoned AMC headquarters. AMC began as the Kelvinator Refrigerator Company, and this was their factory. After they merged with Nash Motors and then Hudson Motors, the company was renamed American Motors. Continue reading
Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital was abandoned in the 1970s with the deinstitutionalization of patients. It is where Bob Dylan first met Woody Guthrie, and the topic of my book, “Woody Guthrie’s Wardy Forty: Greystone Park Hospital Revisited.” Continue reading
Outside Tuscon, Arizona in the Sonora Desert is AMARC, the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center. Here the U.S. Air Force mothballs planes until they either need them again or it’s time to salvage them for parts. Whenever the U.S. sells surplus planes to foreign governments part of the sales pitch is that there will always have a ready supply of spare parts. Some are turned into pilotless drones and used for missile target practice.
There are about 4,000 planes in storage, most now from the Vietnam era. I only wish I’d been able to go in the 60′s when there were still planes from World War II there. You can also see the photographs I shot of AMARC in 1999.
I’ve been collecting the stories people have sent. Here are a few:
“Every pilot I have ever talked to wants to visit but never does. It’s kind of like an elephant graveyard, mysterious, exciting, a place where all kids dreams go. I think that’s why not many of the pilots I’ve talked to have ever really tried to visit. I saw a documentary on the aircraft graveyard. They showed a part where they cut up the B-52′s, all my pilot buddies were silent, I think if each of them were alone, they would have been crying.”
“It shows the incredible creativity as well as the incredible destruction man is capable of.”
When you’re finished looking at these photos you can find out about tours of the boneyard given by the Pima Air Museum at the official AMARC homepage.
For the first time I showed more than one of my walk-in panoramas under the title, “American Trilogy.” It was curated by Larry Walczak. The show was held on the 22nd floor of #4 Times Square during Armory Art Week.
“American Trilogy: Ferguson” places viewers on the spot where Michael Brown was killed by police. I remembered the rioters, tear gas, military assault vehicles and rooftop snipers from the nightly news, but when I was there it was a quiet neighborhood, and on the line where he fell was a makeshift memorial of hundreds of stuffed animals, flowers and notes. The panorama was part of a Black Lives Matter event in Times Square in 2015 as well as installed in a Brooklyn public high school for Black History Month.
“American Trilogy: Arlington” places viewers in front of Muslim soldier Humanyun Saqib Khan’s headstone. His Gold Star parents spot at the Democratic National Convention and were mocked by then-candidate Donald Trump. On Khan’s headstone is the Muslim Star and Crescent and surrounding headstones have Jewish, Christian, Mormon and Buddhist symbols. The panorama was originally installed in Erie Pennsylvania, a red part of a swing state, the week before the Presidential election.
“American Trilogy: Washington” places viewers in front of the White House during the Women’s March on Washington, where they are surrounded by protest signs and a sea of pink pussy hats. It debuted at Spring/Break.
Happily, the exhibit received a lot of press. My favorite quotes were:
“He really seems to be on to something here–standing there looking out at the makeshift memorial for Brown, a black teenager who was unarmed when he was shot and killed by a white police officer, was really moving.” Nicole Disser, Bedford & Bowery
“We are living in unprecedented times. Sometimes, it helps to travel outside frames that are most familiar to us, the narratives we are spoonfed. Step into the panoramas of ‘American Trilogy’ and you just might walk out with a different perspective about a person, place, or cause you thought you knew all about.” Daniel Kessel, Bushwick Daily
“They are technical tours de force, but more importantly they are eloquent reminders of the obstacles facing contemporary America.” Robert Ayers, Ocula
I created another walk-in panorama, this one I shot in front of Captain Khan’s headstone at Arlington National Cemetery. Before the Presidential election, few people outside the military had heard of Gold Star Families or could truly comprehend the enormity of their sacrifices. Stepping inside, people will find themselves standing in front of Captain Humayun Khan’s headstone and see flowers, small stones, a teddy bear and letters left for Captain Khan’s Gold Star parents, Khizr and Ghazala. Surrounded by headstones spreading as far as the eye can see, viewers will see the Muslim Crescent Moon and Star on Captain Khan’s headstone alongside Christian, Mormon, Buddhist and other religious symbols. Off in the distance can be seen a funeral procession with a horse-drawn carriage as well as visiting Gold Star Families.
I will be installing it in Erie Pennsylvania, a conservative part of a swing state, from October 27th until October 29th. Larry Walczak, founder or eyewash Projects, is the curator and it will be located at PACA in Erie.