Nightlife in the Abandoned Borscht Belt

Nightlife in the Abandoned Borscht Belt

All Photos by Issac Jeffreys

Revisit the buzzing nightlife scene of the Borscht Belt through a presentation of historical images and new haunting photographs of the abandoned spaces with photographer Isaac Jeffreys!

  • Step into the glamorous world of nightlife in the Borscht Belt
  • See Borscht Belt hotels that have been previously unseen by the public since the 20th century
  • Gain insight into the photographer’s process behind capturing these images

About the event:

Once the premier vacation destination in the country, The Borscht Belt was a vibrant era in which over 500 hotels and 50,000 bungalow colonies harmoniously existed in New York’s Catskill Mountains. Boasting illustrious and idyllic architecture and forever changing the prospect of American comedy, Borscht Belt resorts hosted entertainers including Buddy Hackett, Tony Bennett, Judy Garland, Sammy Davis Jr., Joan Rivers, and Barbra Streisand. Today, the landscape has changed—a rapid decline in tourism led to the shuttering of every leisurely establishment the region had to offer. Former resorts turned into summer camps, religious schools, and meditation centers, while some remain vacant, awaiting bulldozers.

This talk will feature a plethora of images that illustrate the Borscht Belt’s rise, golden era, and fall. You’ll discover how the golden era of the region serves as inspiration for Jeffreys’ images, as well as a sentimental look into his carefully-lit images of ballrooms, nightclubs, and casinos that remain, teaming with life through their stagnancy at night. Rare views into former hotels that haven’t been documented in over half a century will be shown and discussed before a Q&A.

About Isaac Jeffreys

Isaac Jeffreys is a photographer who lives and works in and around New York, NY. Isaac grew up in the tranquil and historic Hudson Valley/Catskills region, and finds himself returning to the area to create work as much as he can. Drawn to artistic mediums from a young age, Isaac earned a Photography BFA from Parsons School of Design (The New School) in 2022. The architecture and atmosphere at many of the Borscht Belt’s resorts seemed like the perfect marriage of Jeffreys’ interests ranging from architecture, set design, culture/entertainment, tourism history, and the vivid sentimentality of what we now define as the ‘past’.

Working with a variety of mediums within photographic film, Isaac’s work is a communication with the past, and oftentimes he photographs at night to achieve surreal effects within his imagery. He sees the Borscht Belt as a cultural renaissance, and creates work that serve as a reflection and response to the poignant era.

Isaac is currently working on a photo book that will showcase the vibrance of the Borscht Belt through his lens. He’s been featured on The Borscht Belt Tattler Podcast, Hudson Valley Magazine, and designed a collaborative collection of Borscht Belt inspired merchandise with Merch Motel in 2022. In 2023, he joined the team behind the Borscht Belt Historical Marker Project.

Attendees will receive a link to join the webinar after completing the registration.

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