Built between 1905-1914, the Old Bronx Borough Courthouse at 878 Brook Street has been shuttered for the last 37 years. Now, it’s been reopened for the first time as part of No Longer Empty‘s series of public art programs in underutilized spaces. When You Cut Into the Present the Future Leaks Out brought together 26 artists from the Bronx and across New York to create site-specific work drawing inspiration from the structure, its history, and the surrounding neighborhood.
The Hudson River Valley is home to more than its share of formidable ruins, but few match the spooky appeal of Rhinebeck’s Wyndclyffe Mansion. Its beetle-browed exterior is blessed with that beguiling combination of gloom, ornamentation, and extreme old age that only the best haunted houses claim, and there’s no better time to witness them than late October, when autumn breezes send yellow leaves eddying through the hills and hollows of the old estate. It seems that the only thing this “haunted house” is missing is a good ghost story…
Editor Note: With the news that Harlem’s long abandoned PS is finally going to be converted into a Boys and Girls Club and apartment rentals, we turned to our resident Abandoned NYC columnist here at Untapped Cities to share with us images of his exploration into the space.
School’s out forever; at least at P.S. 186. This aging beauty has loomed over West Harlem’s 145th Street for 111 years—but it’s been vacant exactly a third of that time. The Italian Renaissance structure was considered dilapidated when it shuttered 39 years ago, and today its interiors feel more sepulchral than scholastic.
Windows gape on four of its five stories, exposing classrooms to a barrage of elements. Spongy wood flooring, wafer-thin in spots, supports a profusion of weeds. Adolescent saplings reach upward through skylights and arch through windows. Infused with an odor not unlike an antiquarian book collection, upper floors harbor a population of hundreds of mummified pigeon carcasses—the overall effect is grim. You’d never guess this building had an owner, but sure enough…
The swank boutiques, high-end galleries, and ritzy accommodations of today’s Meatpacking District are a far cry from the seedy desolation that dominated the area in the 1980s. Lucky for us, photographer Brian Rose set out to document the neighborhood in 1985, when the stench of meat and blood still permeated the streets.
It seems like every square inch of New York City has been categorized, labeled, and filled beyond capacity. But if you know where to look on the fringes of the city, you can still find places without names.
On the waterfront of Gravesend, Brooklyn, such a place still stands. It’s an all but untraveled wedge of vacant land, nestled between aging marinas and the northern border of Calvert Vaux Park on Bay 44th St. It’s a place we can only call “the secret park,” but there’s no mention of it on the department’s website. In its place, the all-knowing Google maps shows only a dull gray transected by the mysterious Westshore Avenue, though no such road exists.
Most New Yorkers have never heard of North Brother Island, but they should take comfort in the fact that new trees are growing and manmade things are going by the wayside just a stone’s throw from Rikers Island and a few miles from LaGuardia Airport. New York City’s abandoned island proves that as much as we think we have a handle on things, nature is never far behind. Just give it time.