Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Forgot about Boston - Part 4 (The Catskills)

Adam arrived at 7/11 promptly, he let me know that we where going to pick up his friend Eric in NYC. With a quick call we learned Eric is just falling asleep and isn't feeling well. Apparently he was out climbing a high profile bridge the night before. With a few quick insults and gentle taunting from Adam Eric agreed to come along anyway. After a long drive into the city we had Eric on board and were on our way to the Catskills.

The Catskills was an extremely popular resort for most of NYC's Jewish population during the early parts of 1900 till about 1970. The advent of cheap airfare and reliable automobiles left the resort community with hundreds of hotels and bungalow style living quarters abandoned and neglected. The Jewish influence still remains however as one can see Hasidic Jews in almost any convenience store in the area.

Our first stop was a hotel that somehow had remained open for quite some time but had recently closed their doors. Adam was excited about being able to see this place as he has been waiting for it close. Sadly as we pulled up we found a security guard sitting in the booth at the front gate. We weren't too upset though cause we had another destination planned.

On the way Adam told me how the last time they were here they were chased off the property by a mob of angry Hasidic Jews. The confusing part is they where trying to turn the resort into a casino by claiming to be Native American. I had to see this for myself. We arrived at the resort and started with the small bungalows on the far left side of the property.

We worked our way over to the back of the main hotel where the some of the smaller rooms were located.

The place looked like everyone just up and left one day. There was still food in fridges and suitcases with clothes in them. Eric found an old bottle of milk and threw it at one of the buildings. I don't think I've ever smelt anything so vile in my entire life. We quickly made our way to the back where there was a big water tower to climb. The view from here was awesome.

(camera phone pic)

After the water tower we decided to check out the pools.

The function hall was a pretty cool place, but sadly I didn't get any good pictures of it. There was a giant teepee in the center of the room and Native American artwork everywhere. Keep in mind this place was owned and operated by Hasidic Jews. It was a confusing sight, but an amusing one as well.

We left here but were not quite sure where to head to next. Eric still was not feeling well but Adam was ready to do something else. We settled on The Pines as I had never seen it and it was one of the most popular places to visit in the Catskills, or at least it used to be. They felt bad bringing me here because of how trashed it is now, but I was happy to just see something new.

We arrived at The Pines and quickly made our way in, they where not kidding about how trashed this place is. I found it hard to get any good pictures of the place in it's current state.

I managed to snap one of the famous pool before Eric and Adam started filling it with the scattered lawn furniture.

While they were having their own fun I explored the rest of the hotel but found nothing of interest. I managed to get one more shot outta this place before I was done.

On our way towards the exit we stopped to check one of the side hotel buildings, as expected there was nothing to see, but we did find a room that appeared to have a bum living in it. He had covered all the windows with blankets and sheets so as to block out all light. The room was littered with recent newspapers, food wrappers and soda/booze bottles. It's sad to see anyone living in this sort of condition so I tore down the makeshift blinds to let some light into the room, maybe he'd be a little less depressed now......I doubt it.

Eric was kind enough to let me stay with him that night as I would be leaving early in the morning to make my way to Poughkeepsie. I cuddled with his kitty for a few hours and quickly fell asleep. The next day I woke up, said good bye and made my way to Penn Station.

I arrived in Poughkeepsie kinda late so there was very little daylight left. My contact here was Ameris (Snap228). She met me at the train station and let me know we were going to pick up her friend Ian (944kid). Our first stop was Hudson. Being that we had limited light we opted to do one of the smaller buildings that day.

We left here and headed to a rooftop Ameris had been scouting. This is one of the tallest buildings in the city and is right next to a pretty cool bridge right over the Hudson. As we got closer to the building it soon dawned on me that this is one of NY's multiple high rise ghettos. We walked right up to the building and without making eye contact with the man behind the bullet proof glass that is supposed to be security made our way into the elevator and to the top floor. What we found was a door with an alarm on it, but it was broken and the door doesn't close properly. Score!

After a few shots and a quick beer Ian suggests we do a bridge he knows is under construction. Why not! The bridge is called The Walk Way Over The Hudson, it used to be an abandoned railroad line but now is a pedestrian walkway. The site was easy to access, walk around a fence and walk out on to the bridge.

I just finished taking this shot when we noticed a flashlight headed our way. Ian had run off to explore further down the bridge so we knew it wasn't him. We quickly learned that it was a state cop investigating a tripped motion sensor. oops. We tried to txt Ian to tell him to stay put but he walked towards us and was eventually seen by the cop. We followed the cop back to the station where he gave us trespassing violations and told us we had to come back for court in 2 weeks.

After this mess I didn't want to do anything else in Poughkeepsie, I felt defeated and was worried about getting arrested. I booked my trains to Philly and was getting the hell out of New York as soon as possible.

ADDENDUM: I was kinda upset that I only got to see one building of Hudson on this trip so made plans with Ian and Ameris to do an overnight when I returned for court. I was particularly interested in seeing the woman's wing and the Administration building. Ameris and Ian met me at the train station and we stopped to grab a case of beer, it was going to be a long night. We made our way into woman's as that was the only entrance we knew about. Ameris was going to get some sleep, wake up early, take a few shots and then head to school. Ian and I where going to explore hudson all night. The woman's wing is extremely dangerous, the floors are all falling into the basement and if you don't watch where your going you can fall through. Ian learned this first hand at 3am when he fell through the floor and got a floor joist to the nuts.

We where looking for a way into admin, and it wasn't long before we realized we could take the tunnels to it. Once in admin we poked around a bit until we found a wide open door. We quickly made our way back to woman's, collected Ameris and our stuff and moved our camp out to the roof of Admin. It was a gorgeous night and we all got a few good hours of sleep. We woke to watch the sunrise over Poughkeepsie and when we were confident there was enough light made our way into the building to start shooting. By this point Ameris had to leave to go to school.

Finished with Admin we made our way out. I noticed a groups of houses up on a hill, we went in to check them out quickly but didn't find much of interest

Back to woman's.

After woman's we went to the Rec Center.

Last but not least was the newest building and the tallest of them all. We quickly made our way to the roof and worked our way down the floors. About halfway down my camera finally died, but it was ok, I got plenty of shots today.

Ameris was scheduled to meet us at McDonald's and take us over to the court house so we could deal with these violations. As Ian and I were waiting for her a state cop pulled up and asked us what we were doing. We explained we were waiting for a ride to court. He noticed our tripods and told us to don't even try going into Hudson cause they would arrest us. I let him know that we had no intention of going into those buildings anytime soon. Ian and I had a good laugh at that for a bit. Finally Ameris showed up and we made our way to court.

We arrived at court and all stood in front of the judge at the same time. He asked us what we were doing on the bridge. I explained we were only taking pictures and handed him a print of this one

He liked the picture and dropped all charges, we were to only pay the court fines of $125. I was pleased with the results.

Next: Philly

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