Saturday, January 21, 2012

Floyd Bennett Field Hangars

       Back in September 2011, I considered this spot to be the site of my first, "real" exploration, because I took a whole day off to check it out with a friend. During that day, we also went to Bottle Beach and climbed around the underside of the Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge. I always send my exploring pictures to my partners and tell them to do the same, but they usually never do the same. This worked against us when my friend lost his beautiful $300 camera phone and lost all of the pictures we took with it (this is why he can't have nice things). However, even though I knew that some of the hangars were having construction done on them, I went back. I knew there was more to see.
       I checked out the basements in one of the hangars going nowhere, totally dark and filled with either dirt or water, and stepped on a large rusted nail...again. Right at the same time that I was telling my exploring partner that the last time I was there, I stepped on a large rusted nail. The huge hole in the shoe miraculously patched up, and fortunately, the skin was not penetrated deeply. This is the importance of watching your step/having boots. If you go here, be careful. Those rusty nails are death traps. Another tense moment was laying low in a hangar as sanitation trainees walked by and helicopters whirled over us.
     Anyway, I must say I am quite pleased with the photographic results. Here are the fruits of our labors.

                                                                              Until next time!

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Bay Ridge Branch

  "I don't know why. I'm not an impulsive person".
  -Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

      This should be a tale of a young adult's heroism and overpowering sense of adventure. This should be about how he/she braved an oncoming slew of traffic from one side and a flanking from pedestrians and still managed to hop a tall spiked fence. This should be about that. But it isn't. Instead, let me tell you a tale of human incompetence and dumb luck.
      On the same day that I was exploring the Rockaway Branch I decided, on a total whim on the way home, to make my way to the Bay Ridge branch (just for a peek). This is location has gained infamy even among my non-exploring friends, and they cutely refer to it as, "The Avenue H Station". The seemingly abandoned Bay Ridge Branch, however, does run through that part of town. This was a location I had passed several times and peered into the fence, and have longed for an occasion (perhaps at night) where I could jump the fence and explore the place. However, it turned out I didn't need to.
     My eyes hopped from the prickly fence top to the frigid metallic padlock chain. Wait, what chain? The door ajar just ever so slightly, it invited me to enter. I couldn't believe it. The door was left open? How long was it like that? Perhaps it was only for a day. Even so, if I had decided to come just a day later, the place would be chained up and getting in would be so much more difficult. Wary of workers, I slipped through the thin crack in the door and vaulted over the rail to hide myself from the publicly viewable stairs. How many people have passed by this location without even making the conscious effort to peer beyond the gates? This is the importance of keeping plants of curiosity freshly cultivated in your mind, as well as saplings of impulsiveness - because acting on a hunch may provide you with the rich opportunity I had.
     Dark. The world was dark, and the only light shone in from a strange overhead angle. Contributing to the blackness, I had to walk in the shadows to ensure I wasn't seen from pedestrians from above, or any random homeless or workers.
     At one point, I climbed up a rusted set of stairs to peer through a grating. One of the stairs was missing and it looked like someone might've fell through the gap. Imagine stepping on a stair you believed to be sturdy only to have it collapse and crash to the ground eleven feet on impact. Time to turn back. As I went down gently, I heard bits of rust from the stairs rain down onto the dirt. Though the track is still active, it feels like nobody has been here for a long, long time.

      You see that elevated spot in the middleground? The R train passes through there between 59 Street to Bay Ridge Avenue and back. If you take the R and pass between these stations, make sure to steal a peek out the window. In the background to the left appears to be the line which the N train runs on. From this point, one can see three train lines at the same time!

     If you want to check out more on this long forgotten place, check out Nathan Kensinger's photo essay on the Bay Ridge Branch.  It's cool seeing his summetime shots because they contrast grealty with the barren winter I was shooting in. This site provides a virtual tour of this branch.                              

Many subsequent expeditions planned. And now, a little photo from the archives.

These are tracks from an abandoned trolley station in Sunset Park. It's not worth a whole trip to check out the line, but if you're nearby, it's cool to see it. Peace, everyone!