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.
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
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
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.
In the Sonoran desert outside Tucson is the remnants of a Titan II missile silo. Someone scrapped off the dirt and got down to the shell, but couldn’t get in. Continue reading