American Urbex Group Shots

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American Urbex has a group on Flickr. Please join and share your beautiful urban exploration photos with the group!

Facebook? Oh, we have that too. We’ve also got one of those Twitter feeds you kids are all excited about.

Reminiscence in Color

Reminiscence in Color by infinite.magic.

Diamond Windows

Diamond Windows by JJACOBSphotography.

Untitled by polyurethanewheels.

Inside color

Inside Color by Nick Forslund.

Complacency

Complacency by Swizzler.

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The Purple Hotel

Purple Hotel

Photo: You can’t miss the regal facade of this building driving on Touhy Avenue.

According to one Chicago area native, the construction crew of the 293 room Lincolnwood Hyatt House were supposed to receive a shipment of blue bricks for the building facade. It isn’t clear if  a communication or manufacturing error is to blame for the royal purple hue of the bricks, but Hyatt continued construction in spite of the error. Thus, an eccentric Chicago north-side suburb hotspot was born. Although the lodging operated under the Hyatt, Ramada, and Regency banners throughout the years locals colloquially dubbed it “The Purple Hotel.”

Take a Seat

Photo:  Law books adorn the shelves of TJ’s restaurant connected to the hotel.

In the early the early years the hotel enjoyed a certain level of grandeur. In the 1960’s and 70’s the hotel was a swinging Chicago hotspot. Famous musicians such as Barry Manilow, Roberta Flack, and Perry Como stayed in the hotel when in the Chicago area. The high times came to a screeching halt in 1983 when Teamster Allen Dorfman was murdered in the parking lot. Dorfman had been convicted of conspiring to bribe a US senator and faced up to 55 years in prison. When walking through the parking lot Dorfman was shot eight times with a .22 calibre pistol. FBI wiretaps revealed that the Chicago Mafia may have been connected to the execution style murder. Officials speculate that Dorfman was killed out of fear that he would divulge information from his 30 years of ties with organized crime figures. To date the case is still unsolved and whomever is responsible is still on the loose. The same year the head of Gerber Plumbing, Oscar Gerber, was also murdered at the hotel. A disturbed employee believed he was going to be fired and took Oscar’s life into his own hands.

In 1984 limousine driver George Koehler was standing at O’Hare airport waiting for his fare. After most of the passengers from the flight filed out of the airport Koehler asked the pilots if anyone remained on the plane. The pilots informed Koehler that one more person remained and would be coming shortly. Once the passenger arrived, Koehler ferried the young basketball player who had never been to Chicago before to the purple Lincolnwood Hyatt House. According to ESPN, Koehler and Michael Jordan remain friends to this day.

Growth Potential

Photo: Swim at your own risk.

After more than 40 years in operation the hotel was taken over in late 2004 by Village Resorts, Inc.,  which officially christened the building with its affectionate “The Purple Hotel” moniker. Under new management the hotel boasted of its modernity.

We feature fully renovated and tastefully furnished guest rooms. To ensure that you are completely comfortable, each guest room is spacious and provides a number of amenities to meet the needs of today’s traveler. All rooms have an oversized work desk, two dual-line telephones with data port and voicemail,and state-of-the-art electronic key security system.

Despite efforts to cater to to a certain business clientele, the hotel was synonymous with sleaze. Police were frequently summoned to the hotel for drug and prostitution related offenses. In the May 7, 2008 edition of the Sun-Times the paper notes that the hotel relied on conventions such as the Midwest Fetish Fair & Marketplace for business. The hotel is split into three separate towers and management knowingly tried to segregate known sex parties from the rest of the hotel guests. One news clipping from as far back as 1989 mentions Opposite Sex, Inc. giving several “Meet, Match, Mate” seminars at the hotel.

Village Resorts President Donald Bae positioned Stefanie Bae as hotel manager. In 2005 Stefanie wrote a ringer review for the hotel on the Yahoo! Travel page.

The Purple Hotel had the most friendliest and helpful staff. The food was amazing….and They have a Sunday Brunch that is to DIE for. The rooms were very clean and cozy, excellent value for your money. It is close to everything and they have a sandvolleyball court!!! They have the best steaks in the world!

Grammar and punctuation errors aside, Stefanie may have had a prophetic moment when using the past tense in claiming the “Purple Hotel had the most friendliest and helpful staff.” Acting on complaints by guests, health officials descended upon the hotel in 2006. The inspection led to the discovery of over thirty violations that included a leaking roof, garbage disposal issues, and a failure to exterminate insects and rodents. Of the 293 total guest rooms at the hotel, inspectors sampled 225 for mold. The results did not bode well for Donald Bae as mold was discovered in 208 of these rooms (92.4% of the sample). In September the same year the village of Lincolnwood sued hotel management for failing to fix the myriad of citations. The judge agreed with the village of Lincolnwood and ordered Bae to fix the problems by December. Unable to cover the cost of renovation Bae opted not to fix the issues and in January 2007 a judge ordered the hotel to close. The “most friendliest and helpful staff” suddenly found themselves unemployed.

Pool

Photo: The indoor pool is now filled with furniture, glass shards, and dead plants.

Bae attempted to sell the 8.5 acre property in 2008 for the sum of $27 million, but the deal fell through as the real estate market tanked with the economy. In November, 2009 Bae tapped ForeFront Properties LLC to move the site along with two shuttered adjacent commercial properties for $25.8 million. As the property spent months on the real estate market it deteriorated even further. Rather than wait around for Bae on the busy corner of Touhy and North Lincoln Avenue , village officials again took to the courts. If the building is not brought up to code by August 1, 2011 the village has won the right to demolish the purple blemish on their map. The court ruling in Lincolnwood’s favor sticks Bae with the bill for demolition costs. To make matters worse Midwest Bank filed for foreclosure on the property as a $4.2 million loan taken out by Bae has fallen into default. In any case, it looks as though the days for The Purple Hotel are finally numbered.

Home Away From Home

Photo: One of the hotel rooms with mold growing behind the wallpaper.

The Purple Hotel

Photo: Welcome letter from hotel manager Stefanie Bae.

The Purple Hotel

Photo: Main and lower level maps.

Resources:

ABC – 2007 article that mentions the murder of Oscar Gerber at the hotel.

Chicago Real Estate Daily – 2010 article on Lincolnwood filing a lawsuit agains the Purple Hotel owner.

Chicago Real Estate Daily – 2011 article on the $4.2 million lawsuit filed against the Purple Hotel owner.

Chicago Tribune – 1989 “Meet, Match, Mate” seminars at the hotel.

Chicago Tribune – 2007 article on the closing of the Purple Hotel.

CityNoise – A walk around photo gallery of the abandoned hotel.

Global Traveler Blog – Claims the purple bricks were a mistake.

Google News – 1983 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article on the Dorfman killing.

Google News – 1983 Pittsburgh Press article on mob ties to Dorfman killing.

Hotel Planner – Has description of hotel services.

Flickr – Martin Gonzalez’ impressive Purple Hotel set.

Flickr – My photo set of The Purple Hotel.

Skokie Patch – Summarizes history of the hotel and redevelopment efforts.

Sun Times – 2011 article that puts an August 1 demolition date on the hotel unless health code violations are fixed.

Yahoo! Travel – Reviews by guests of the Purple Hotel.

Wikipedia – Lincolnwood entry has a bit of Purple Hotel history.

Wikipedia – Allen Dorfman was killed in the parking lot. The crime remains unsolved.

Hiring

Streetcars of Grand Rapids

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In this short video, Grand Rapids native and amateur historian Fred Quillin discusses the world-class electric streetcar system that used to drive the city economy. In the mid-20th century the automobile industry purchased the streetcars and dismantled them. In the video Quillin makes an impassioned plea to Grand Rapids voters to reinvest in a streetcar system to revitalize the local economy. Well done, sir…

Source: Boing Boing

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American Urbex Podcast E.02 – The Abandoned Farm – Part 1

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American Urbex - Podcast Logo

A chance sighting on the side of a Wisconsin road leads to a mystery that will take three years to unravel. This podcast is part 1 of 2.

Flickr – The abandoned farm explored described in the podcast episode.

Abandoned Waupun Farm – The original article about the abandoned farm.

Finding Your Old House – Where contact is made with the person who lived in the house.

Subscribe to the American Urbex Podcast on iTunes or download the episode directly.

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Wyman-Gordon Power Plant

Wyman-Gordon

Photo: Power plant for what was originally the Ingalls-Shepard Forging Co.

In 1910 seasoned manufacturing veterans F.A. Ingalls and Charles C. Shepard partnered to create the Ingalls-Shepard Forging Co. in Harvey, Illinois. Ingalls took up the mantle of President and treasurer, while Shepard acted as Vice President. The company produced a wide range of parts for the burgeoning automobile industry and railroad companies. As the world delved into chaos during the War to End All Wars industrial manufacturers across the United States were pushed to the limits of their operating capacities to great profit. In 1920 the Wyman-Gordon Company out of Worcester, Massachusetts acquired the Ingalls-Shepard Forging Co. and rechristened it as the Ingalls-Shepard Division. The consolidation placed Ingalls as Vice President of Wyman-Gordon, but he would still maintain operational control over the Harvey factory.

Wyman Gordon

Photo (source): Logo from an advertisement for Wyman-Gordon with the Harvey plant on the right.

The Roaring Twenties were a boon for the steel industry. The automobile, which had been a luxury item the previous decade, now entered the American mainstream as mass production made “horseless carriages” accessible to the general public. The automobile may have driven urban development outward, but new architectural technologies drove cities upwards. Skyscrapers demanded strong metal frameworks to withstand environmental punishment. New massive machines such as massive cranes and earth movers were needed to move materials. While skyscrapers penetrated the sky, aeronautic developments of the Great War brought with it the commercialization of airplane travel. Wyman-Gordon produced parts that serviced every one of these industries. At the outset of World War II all large US manufacturers devoted their efforts to defeating the Axis, which Wyman-Gordon used to their industrial advantage. US Army engineers kept on the heels of the front lines to dismantle superior German industrial technology and pass it on to American businesses such as Wyman-Gordon. The Wyman-Gordon company claims to have produced more single parts for the war effort than any of its entirety of its competitors in the industry.

Q

Photo: The equipment is completely rusted over.

Innovation in the aeronautics industry drove Wyman-Gordon business for the next few decades. By the 1960’s the Wyman-Gordon company was recognized as the leading innovator in forging and titanium technologies. The US government contracted with Wyman-Gordon to create parts for the B-52 Stratofortress, the secret SR-71 spy plane, F-14 Tomcat and F-15 Eagle fighter jets. In the civilian market the company produced parts for hundreds of other aircraft. In the 1980’s, however, declining defense expenditures, sagging commercial airline development, and international competition put manufacturers like Wyman-Gordon into commercial distress.

In order to stay operational Wyman-Gordon decided to shutter the Ingalls-Shepard Division in Harvey. The announcement proved devastating as the community had already endured the recent closing of three other major manufacturing employers. The company tried in vain to sell the 780,000 sq. foot facility for over six months, but was unable to find a buyer. The manufacturing of diesel engine crankshafts was moved to the company’s Danville, Illinois plant and special manufacturing to Jackson, Michigan. In 1986 the closing of the Ingalls-Shepard Division took with it 350 jobs from Harvey.

Dead Drop

Photo: Massive storage areas several stories tall.

Plans for redevelopment of the 47-acre industrial site revolve around tapping into Harvey’s geographic advantages in transportation. The southern Chicago suburb has three expressways, four national highways, four freight railroads and the Chicago Metra lines running through it. Although a majority of the Ingalls-Shepard Division buildings have been demolished, the Environmental Protection Agency has listed the location as a brownfield in need of cleanup before development can continue. It would seem logical that Wyman-Gordon would be on the hook for cleaning up the site, but that is not the case. With one of the highest unemployment rates in the Chicago area and lowest average household income Harvey cannot afford the up front costs for assessing the property. Compounding an already bad situation is the fact that the total cost of cleanup may exceed the market value of the land once remediated.

All that remains of the Ingalls-Shepard Division is the power plant and a still occupied large building across the street from it. Fences border the entire perimeter of the power plant, but are pried wide open in several areas. The building is about four or fives stories high with an even higher smokestack affixed to the rear. On the inside the factory has been scrapped and everything metal has the patina of decay. The interchangeable fixtures of the heavy machinery are all missing, but the core pieces remain. Coal hoppers, generators, and some dynamos encased in a heavy layer of rust remain. Steel walkways crisscrossing the upper portions are missing large sections and appear quite unsafe for even the most seasoned urban explorer to traverse.

Dead Drop

Photo: Some of the steel walkways have large sections missing.

The Ingalls-Shepard Division power plant is a monument to the prosperity once generated in the Harvey. The power plant will most likely loom over the community until the federal government steps in with enough money to remediate the land. In the long run the tax-payers will end up paying for Wyman-Gordon’s mess.

There is still one thing that I have been unable to pin down about this location though. Why was the power plant spared from demolition when the rest of the factory came down? If you have an answer, please leave it in the comments.

Resources:

ASME (PDF) – Fascinating brochure detailing how US troops captured superior German forging technology during World War II and passed it on to Wyman-Gordon.

Chicago Tribune – 1985 article announcing Wyman-Gordon plans to sell the Ingalls-Shepard Division plant.

Chicago Tribune – 1986 article announcing 350 layoffs from the Wyman-Gordon plant.

Chicago Tribune – 2010 article on the EPA cleanup of the Wyman-Gordon plant.

CNT (PDF) – Document describing a collaborative effort between Harvey and Dixmoor authorities to remediate the site.

EPA – Facility Detail Report by the Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA – 1997 Brownfield Assessment Pilot by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Flickr – My Wyman-Gordon photo set.

Google – Wyman-Gordon company timeline.

Google Books – 1910 Railway Age Gazette article mentions construction of the Ingalls-Shepard Forging Co. building in Harvey, which was acquired in 1919 by Wyman-Gordon.

Google Books – 1917 Electrical Review succinctly explains why electrical furnaces are better than gas fueled ones.

Google Books – 1920 Machinery mention on the merger of Ingalls-Shepard Forging Co. and Wyman-Gordon.

Google Books – 1920 Electrical World mention of an electric heat furnace used at the Ingalls-Shepard Forging Co.

Google Books – 1922 Wyman-Gordon advertisement from the Society of Automotive Engineers that has the Harvey plant pictured.

Flickr – Flickr user reallyboring’s set of the Wyman-Gordon plant.

Funding Universe – Wyman-Gordon company history.

IQMesothelioma – Law firm notice of asbestos and mesothelioma health risks for former workers at the plant.

 

Dixie Square Mall

 

Church of Capitalism

Photo: One of the entrances to the famous Dixie Square Mall.

After World War II the newly minted American middle class became emboldened by prosperity and moved further away from city centers into suburbs. Larger homes, new automobiles, televisions and all sorts of consumer goods all became part of the conspicuous consumption norm to demonstrate affluence. There is perhaps no greater symbol that expresses American style consumer culture in the suburbs than the shopping mall.

Church of Capitalism

Photo: Main thoroughfare in the Dixie Square Mall.

In 1966 the still under construction Dixie Square Shopping Center in the southern Chicago suburb of Harvey, Illinois opens its doors to those living the American Dream. The $25 million complex opens strong with 50 stores that included Walgreen’s and Jewel. Big name retailers such as JC Penney, Montgomery Ward’s, and Woolworth’s occupy the anchor locations. Dixie Square is quite successful until about 1970 when rapidly changing demographics, a declining tax-revenue base, and plummeting property values in Harvey began put economic pressure on businesses. Throughout the 1970’s the future of Dixie Square is in turmoil despite several renovation attempts to attract new customers. The store population gradually decreases to the point where the big name anchor stores finally move to other locations.

Video: Clip from the making of The Blues Brothers.

The mall closing in November, 1978 proves to be a windfall for producers of “The Blues Brothers.” There is an iconic car chase scene in the film where the main characters played by Jim Belushi and Dan Akroyd attempt to escape the police by driving right through the mall. Once filming wraps up the mall returns to its dormant state.

Frequent break-ins to the shuttered mall lead to vandalism, arson, and theft of anything of value. In 1985 some the structural adornments are removed and expose the interior to the elements. This hastens the spread of water, mold, and structural decay throughout the mall. As the building deteriorates it attracts more criminal gang and drug activity throughout the 1990’s. In 1993 Raymond Eaves lures Denise Shelby into the old JC Penney store before raping and strangling her to death. The courts sentence Eaves to life in prison in October, 1997 for his brutal crimes.

Dixie Square inadvertently attracts a new clientele in the 2000’s when the site is detailed on the internet. Digital cameras make it easier to share photos of the mall on websites dedicated to the exploration of abandoned buildings. Perhaps aided by its movie history the mall became a magnet within urban exploration circles.

Enrichment Center

Photo: The second floor of JC Penney lies on the first.

The newfound activity may have sparked redevelopment interest in the location, but the faint glimmers of hope are quickly snuffed out. In 2005 the old Montgomery Ward’s building is purchased by American Kitchen Delights. Rather than dispose of the debris properly, the contractors push it out of the building entrances and into the mall. It is then discovered that the debris contained asbestos and all renovation efforts cease. In 2006 the property is sold to developer John Deenen of the Emerald Property Group and security measures are erected. The first buildings to go are the Montgomery Ward’s building and energy facility, but understandably disgruntled United Demolition workers leave the site after not being paid by Deenen. Rather than settle things in the courts Deenen threatens one of the contractors with brass knuckles, a sawed-off shotgun, and pistol. Deenen is quickly arrested for his aggressive confrontation style.

In September, 2010 Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announces that he plans to allocate $4 million dollars in federal funds to the demolition of the Dixie Square Mall. As of April, 2011 there have been no visible signs of demolition other than the unrelenting efforts of time and nature. There is still hope in the Harvey community that something will come of the massive eyesore though. Future plans for the site include… a shopping center.

Dixie Square Mall

Photo (ifmuth): The courtyard in front of the JC Penney store.

The urban explorer responsible for writing the Dead Malls article on Dixie Square Mall which became a resource for many urban explorers revisited his thoughts on the subject years later. His observations on the decay of the mall in the broader context of suburb development is stunningly accurate as it is succinct. In a relatively short amount of time suburbs like Harvey spring up around urban centers and have in influx in population growth. The population of a suburb traditionally commutes to work centers located elsewhere. Without a core work center suburbs are generally homogenous and have nothing to distinguish them from the next suburb. As the population grows the suburbs will continue to spring up in other areas. Consumers are typically attracted to new development. In the 1950’s and 60’s Harvey was on the cusp of growth outside of Chicago, but by the 70’s the wave of middle to upper class residents were moving on. Poor urban planning did not give Harvey anything to stand out among the rest of the suburbs and affluent residents had little reason to stay.

Triangulated

Photo: The building seemingly swells to life after a morning shower.

Dixie Square Mall is a fascinating specimen among urbex locations. For over thirty years the building has been exposed to the caustic effects of neglect. In the past decade urban explorers have documented the decline in great detail. Due to the mall’s online presence I had known about Dixie Square Mall for years, but never got around to devoting the time to visit it. This location taught me to capitalize on photographing an urbex location as soon as possible. So much of the flair that I had seen in online galleries is now missing entirely. Despite the advanced decay, I still managed to have a phenomenal exploration. A morning shower seemed to give the massive structure a breath of life. The steel girders moaned with the wind in every store. The broken concrete channelled the water to areas where different types of flora took root. In one area I was startled by two adult Canadian geese and six yellow gosslings.

The vast open retail spaces reminded me of Port Plaza Mall in downtown Green Bay. As a teenager I spent a lot of my youth killing time with friends in the arcade, videogame store, and media stores. Things began to turn in the mid-90’s and the number of stores began to dwindle. What was once a beautiful shopping center began to become an eyesore. Development in the Green Bay suburb of Ashwaubenon exploded and drove business to the expanding Bay Park Square Mall. The Ashwaubenon location of Lambeau Field may have also contributed to Green Bay’s downtown decline as the Packers climbed their way to a Super Bowl victory at the same time. Just like Dixie Square Mall the owners renovated and rebranded Port Plaza Mall to Washington Commons. The effort did not have the intended effect and the mall floundered until closing in 2006.

When I sat down to do this writeup I thought that there would be little for me to say. The Dixie Square Mall has been covered extensively before and I wondered if just posting a few photos and links would be enough to say I checked this one off my list. It is a fine urbex location despite the extensive damage and seemingly void corridors paying homage to the wonders of consumerism.

Resources:

Atlas Obscura – Short article summarizing the history of the mall.

BookRags – Has a chronological history with dates of significant events at the mall.

Chicago Breaking News – Announcement of demolition from 2010.

Chicago Tribune – 2010 Article where Gov. Quinn announces plan to raze Dixie Square with $4 million of federal funds.

CLUI – Small photo gallery of the mall.

Columbia Chronicle – Article talks about Brett Tracy’s efforts.

Dead Malls – First detailed the mall in 2001.

Facebook – Group for Dixie Square Mall.

Flickr – Mike Brown’s excellent Dixie Square Mall set. Includes great photos from the 1960’s.

Flickr – My own Dixie Square Mall set.

Ghost Mall – Urbex site designed specifically for the Dixie Square Mall. The owner and accomplices “liberated” some of the few remaining store signs.

Labelscar – A followup to the Dead Malls article.

Last Days of Dixie Square – Expired Kickstarter project by Brett Tracy to document the mall.

UER – Entry for Dixie Square Mall.

YouTube – The Blues Brothers producers talk about filming. Part One, Two, Three, Four.

Wikipedia – Dixie Square Mall

Presenting the American Urbex Podcast

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American Urbex is a means to motivate myself to get out the door and explore new places. Unfortunately… or fortunately depending on your point of view… there are only so many urbex locations to explore nearby. Because I do not have unlimited funds does not mean that I am limited when exploring new things. One of those new things for me that is cheap to explore is podcasting. I have decided to stick my head out there and see what happens with American Urbex Podcast. There are a few episodes already recorded and I have scheduled release dates set. Using some of the money donated to American Urbex, I have invested into hosting for a podcast.

What is the American Urbex Podcast?

In the first couple of episodes I will be talking about some of the places I have explored. I will discuss some of the background information, the location details, and what motivates me to keep going. Future episodes will address topics such as research methods, preservation, camera equipment, online resources and more. The natural rhythm and flow of the podcast will work itself out as time goes on. So without further ado I present unto the public the American Urbex Podcast.

American Urbex E.01 – The Origin Story

A chance encounter with an abandoned German factory turns the American Urbex creator on to a new and potentially dangerous hobby.

Hassia Landmaschinenfabrik – Flickr Gallery

Subscribe to the American Urbex Podcast on iTunes or download the episode directly.

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Facebook Page

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It's about time.

American Urbex is now on Facebook. Share your urbex photos, links and adventures with other American Urbex readers. It’s a great way to connect to other urban explorers!

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Superconducting Super Collider

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Photo (Physics Central): Overview of the massive Superconducting Super Collider.

In the midst of the Cold War between Russia and the United States science was a key strategic weapon. In order to maintain scientific supremacy in the 1980’s the United States planned to build the world’s largest particle accelerator. No one could have predicted in the early 1980’s that the Soviet Union would collapse at the end of the decade, thus bringing the Cold War to an anti-climactic end. Without the looming spectre of total nuclear annihilation to spur innovation the project lost its driving momentum. In the absence of strategic scientific necessity the ever inflating budget to operate the massive scientific apparatus sealed its fate. In 1993 funding for the project ceased despite an urgent plea by then President Clinton.

The Superconducting Super Collider on the outskirts of Waxahachie, TX, just south of Dallas, encircles the whole town. The seemingly odd location choice was in fact quite deliberate.

The Department of Energy had chosen its site carefully. To mitigate the risk of hazardous material passing nearby, it selected land 5 miles from the nearest truck route and 4 miles from the nearest rail line. The collider is clear of flight paths and out of hurricane, tsunami, earthquake and flood zones.

Source: Wired

Before Congress removed funding for the project crews had already dug out up to 14 miles of underground tunnel and 17 shafts that lead to the surface. If the ring been completely dug out it the circumference would have been 54 miles. In the end this massive hole in the ground cost US taxpayers $2 billion dollars. Had the facility been completed, it would have been even larger than the Hadron Collider in Switzerland. An investment group snapped up the property in 2006 and has hired another firm to market it as a potential data center. Until that happens the colossal monument to American scientific investment fries in the sweltering Texas sun.

Resources:

BoingBoing – Orignal post on the physicists exploring the SSC.

C-Span – Congressional debate over funding for the SSC.

Damn Interesting – Article incorrectly asserts that President Clinton was not a fan of the SSC, but otherwise a good read.

Ellis County Museum – Summary of the SSC and its scientific applications.

Great Guy – An employee describes the accelerator first hand.

Physics Buzz – A group of nerdy urbexers infiltrate the SSC.

Pres. Clinton – Letter of support for the SSC from President Clinton.

Summer of Science – An explorer makes his way into the abandoned SSC.

Wired – 2009 article on the sale of the SSC with excellent photos.

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Infiltration Summer

In 2010 American Urbex was able to raise just over $400 to fund an expedition to Gary, IN.  This website has no advertising or revenue stream to support it. The content is created because I have an inherent need to share my discoveries and don’t mind paying out of pocket to do so. The donations that support American Urbex are greatly appreciated.

American Urbex

This summer I would like to explore even more fascinating urbex locations. That’s where you come in. Contributions to American Urbex as low as $1 and higher can help offset the cost of travel, lodging and food. Contributors are recognized for their support and will receive incentives for donations. All major credit cards and PayPal are accepted. Please visit the American Urbex: Infiltration Summer project page on IndieGoGo to find out how you can support American Urbex.

Generous Donation

Photo: The contents of the mysterious envelope.

03/31/2011 UPDATE #1: I went to my mailbox today and inside was a letter without a return address. At first I thought to myself, “Oh ****. Another anthrax letter.” I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the contents were not deadly Bacillus anthracis spores, but a check made out to American Urbex for $200. Many thanks for your generous direct donation! Your name will go up instantly on the Contributors page of American Urbex.

0/31/2011 UPDATE #2: A donor who wishes to remain anonymous has just contributed $100. I am truly fortunate to have such ardent backers behind this project. It is good to receive donations this high, but let me be absolutely clear that I appreciate donations in any amount. I don’t consider a $1 a measly amount. I consider it to be as generous as any amount that goes towards this project. Thank you so much.

04/04/2011 UPDATE: Many thanks to Matt N. and Scott L. for contributing to American Urbex. You guys rock.

04/06/2011 UPDATE: Good friend and confessed American Urbex fan Andrew W. has contributed to the cause. Thank you so much buddy!

04/08/2011 UPDATE: Another anonymous donor has contributed $100. Note to self: Return the favor in kind by creating some badass American Urbex content.

04/09/2011 UPDATE: Melissa. You rock. That is all. 😀

04/11/2011 UPDATE: With $550 total raised so far ($200 cash, $350 on IndieGoGo) it looks like Infiltration Summer is going to go ahead. I’d like to get some input on where to explore next. Online Poll, I choose you!

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Please support American Urbex and go to the IndieGoGo project page to donate today!

04/17/2011 UPDATE: Dave Smith, aka Dezro, pitched in $10. He also gave me a free copy of his awesome 8-Bit Pocket Camera iPhone app, which was inspired by some flagrant geekery of mine. Thanks Dave!

05/10/2011 UDATE: On June 12 I will be taking a tour of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, WV. The photography tour for this building will cost $100, but I will be joining a Chicago based urbex group that organized the event. I plan on leaving a few days early and stopping at urbex locations in Indiana and Ohio along the way. This doesn’t mean American Urbex is done fundraising. We still have to meet the $500 goal on the IndieGoGo project page. Your donations will fund a good chunk of the content for this summer. Donations are used to offset the ever rising cost of gas, food, and lodging. Please contribute to this trip today!

Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

Photo: Postcard of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.

05/12/2011 UPDATE: The UrbEx – Explore Chicago group organizing the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum trip to Weston, WV is looking for a few more people to join. The photography tour cost is $100 payable to the asylum. If you would like to join us please go to this MeetUp page (registration required) and join the trip. We will be meeting at the asylum at 1:30pm on June 12. The tour lasts from 2-6pm. If you need more information please call the asylum at (304) 269-5070.

05/21/2011 UPDATE: Organization for the trip to the asylum fell through. The best laid plans of mice and men…

06/04/2011 UPDATE: American Urbex is very close to meeting its IndieGoGo goal. Please contribute a few dollars to offset travel costs… it will go a long way.  I have taken the advice of the poll above and will be spending a long weekend in the Ohio area June 10-13. It is absolutely thrilling to have your support in this.

06/08/2011 UPDATE: I’m going to have to reschedule the trip. Going to unfamiliar urbex locations alone is not a good idea. In the interest of safety I have decided to wait for a time that works better for my fellow photographer friends and contacts. I’m determined to make this thing happen one way or another.

06/10/2011 UPDATE: Pierre R. helped American Urbex get closer to its goal on IndieGoGo. Thank you so much Pierre!

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