Urbex in Toledo: Old and New

July 28, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

So one of the genres that helped get me started with photography was the infamous "ruin porn" of the economic collapse of 2008.  With people losing their jobs and their homes left and right as the bankers ran away with everyone's savings, many a home, hospital, factory or school was left to rot amidst abandoned and low-income areas of cities, towns and villages.  No part of the country escaped this phenomena.  Neglect and blight took over, and the sight of something that was once man-made, strong and proud now falling apart and standing amidst rubble gave these places a unique, ethereal glow that many people, myself included, found attractive.

a view down a hallway of peeling paint and mold in an abandoned hotel in toledo, ohio.First LookMy first glance down the hallway of the Park Hotel. It was warm outside and humid in the hallway.

Also known as "urbexing" or "urban exploration", venturing into these places became quite fashionable, if not fraught with needless danger.  Many buildings were (are) structurally unsound, filled with dangerous debris and overgrowths of black mold.  Scrappers moved in and emptied many buildings of their copper and other metals, ripping open walls, ceilings and floors in the process, making them that much more untenable and unsafe.  The homeless, destitute and despairing in our society often found refuge in these places - a roof over the head of someone trying to make it through the winter "outdoors" rather than in a shelter with rules and regulations is a big deal for some people.  When exploring you were always wise to go during the daylight hours, with a friend or three, wear a respirator of some sort and carry a good light.  

a view of an abandoned warehouse room; the windows are covered with green sheeting, giving the room a green glow.  there are large puddles on the floor making large, still reflections of the windows.Green RoomThe third floor of an abandoned factory just outside of Toledo's Old West End. All of the windows were sheathed in green plastic siding, casting an eerie glow everywhere. Disclaimer: I am not putting this information out to advocate for the exploration of any abandoned buildings - here in Toledo we just recently witnessed the tragic death of a young man who was simply being curious and adventurous with his friends, but ultimately ended up falling several stories down an open elevator shaft.  However, as someone who has actively gone into a multitude of empty buildings over the years, I and some of my friends have found it fascinating to see what is left behind by people as the world moves on, and I want to share some of the images I have captured; some of these buildings are no longer standing, like this image below of an old warehouse that used to stand on Central Avenue.

view of an empty, abandoned car parts factory that used to stand in toledo, oh but is now demolished. Third Floor WestLooking West on the third floor of an abandoned warehouse near the old Jeep plant. The roof was missing at the other end, and the sunlight and rain that is allowed in has created mini trees and grass growing amidst the garbage and mold. I was recently able to explore a local church that has long been abandoned, and was very impressed with what I found there.  The combination of natural light, rows of metal bookshelves still filled with books fat with humidity and rot, and a basement theater and stage made for some very neat images.  

rows of red theater seats sit amid rubble and decomposing building materials in the basement of an old abandoned church in toledo, ohEpworth United ChurchView of the basement theater/seating in an old abandoned church in toledo, oh

looking out among empty bookshelves and stone columns of a degraded, abandoned church in toledo, oh.  The shelves are still a bright red and some books still remain, fat with humidity and moisture and rot.Epworth United ChurchView from the second floor of the upper atrium in an old abandoned church in toledo, oh

Until next Wednesday, you can see more images from this awesome old church in the slideshow below; I hope you enjoy it!

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