Ghostly Ruins: America's Forgotten Architecture

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9781568986159: Ghostly Ruins: America's Forgotten Architecture
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We've all seen them but might have been too scared to enter: the house on the hill with its boarded-up windows; the darkened factory on the outskirts of town; the old amusement park with its rickety skeleton of a rollercoaster. These are the ruins of America, filled with the echoes of the voices and footfalls of our grandparents, or their parents, or our own youth. Where once these structures were teeming with lifecommuters, workers, vacationersnow they are disused and dilapidated.

Ghostly Ruins shows the life and death of thirty such structures, from transportation depots, factories, and jails to amusement parks, mansions, hotels, and entire towns. Author Harry Skrdla gives a guided tour of these marvelous structures at their peak of popularity juxtaposed with their current state of haunted decrepitude. Like a seasoned teller of ghost stories, Skrdla's words and images reveal what lies beyond the gates and beneath the floorboards. There are the infamous Eastern State Penitentiary and Bethlehem Steel factory in Pennsylvania, the Packard Motors Plant and Book-Cadillac Hotel in Detroit, and Philip Johnson's New York State Pavilion from the 1964/65 World's Fair. There is the entire town of Centralia, Pennsylvania, where a trash fire set inside an old mine in 1962 morphed into an underground inferno that incinerated the town from underneath; more than forty years later, the subterranean fire still rages. The town is empty now, just as the many other abandoned places in this chronicle. Ghostly Ruins is a record of the souls of yesteryear and a chronicle of America's haunted past.

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About the Author:

Harry Skrdla is an engineer and a historic-preservation consultant based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He has contributed to the preservation and restoration of a number of noteworthy structures, including the ornate 1920s movie palace the Fox Theatre in Detroit, one of the last of its kind in America.

Review:

(Skrdla) is investigating the architecture of 'forgetting,' in the present tense, confronting us with the 'ruins' our way of life seems bound to produce. . . . There's a wonderful photograph shot from an upper floor of the abandoned Hudson's building, before it was imploded--a view that none but 'ghosts' will ever look out upon again. The effect is meditative and fine; the book will appeal to anybody acquainted with the pleasures of the unseen. -- Metro Times, November 2006

An obituary to some of the grandest, oddest and unluckiest building ventures in the country. . . Ghostly Ruins prompts the question: Which of today's buildings, towns, department stores or factories will be the last one standing? -- Traditional Building, April 2007

Curl up in front of a roaring fire with Ghostly Ruins, eerie, black-and-white photographs of dozens of gorgeous old ruins. -- Detroit News, Nov. 4, 2006

The effect is meditative and fine; the book will appeal to anybody acquainted with the pleasures of the unseen. -- Metro Times, Nov. 28, 2006

These inventories of fallen monuments to our ambition as a nation are unsettling for what they say about our culture. -- T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Fall 2006

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