Chris Giuliano

My life, my photos

The Mansions of Bed-Stuy

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These photos were all taken on a long walk through the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn one Saturday afternoon almost a month ago. I’ve been very behind on this blog as of late, so sorry for taking so long, but alas, here is this collection. I was really in the mood for some Victorian architecture this day, so I headed out to Brownstone country to check out the old Victorian and Romanesque homes of Bed-Stuy and venture around a neighborhood I had never really explored, much to my own loss, since it’s quite a beautiful place.

Chris

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Pittsburgh in the summertime

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"Freak Train" - Kurt VileThese photos are from a week long trip to one of my favorite places on earth: Pittsburgh. This year, for my annual summer trip, we mixed up the usual debauchery and lack of exploration, and we decided to ride bikes all over the city, and explore some places we’d never been before. From the west end, to Fineview in the Northside, to Penn Brewery, to Homestead & Braddock, to abandoned barges on the rivers, to dive bars in Greenfield, to Josza Corner, to Hazelwood, to The Run, to lower Lawrenceville, we did a lot of new stuff on this round in the Burgh. As always, I have a ton of photos (65 on here to be exact), so I hope you enjoy them, and the attached Kurt Vile song (“Freak Train”), which is currently one of my favorites. Until next time.

Chris

Hailey, Neon, and the Wildwoods

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These photos were all taken down the shore as my last effort to get some actually “summery” photos this summer. I’ve been taking really urban photos this whole summer, so I wanted to try and get a few shots that felt more like summer. So, when Hailey asked me if I wanted to do a shoot, I went for it. Unfortunately, we were a little late for sunset the night we shot, so instead we headed up to Ocean City and shot around some of the classic motels and seashore-looking stuff up there. The rest of the motel photos and neon photos were taken in the great bastion of neon-signage: Wildwood. Most of them were long exposures taken on my tripod. I’m really glad with the way that all these shots turned out, and I’m really glad I got some summer photos before the summer ended. Hopefully soon, I’ll have my Pittsburgh photos posted, after I scan three more rolls of film next week. And, now that school is starting and I’m back in New York, I should have some NYC photos to put up soon. I’m excited to be back in the city, and I plan on doing more photographing this year than I ever have, so we’ll see how that goes. Until next time…

Chris

Venturi, Victorians, and Biddle

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"Freeway" - Kurt Vile A few weeks ago, I spent a weekend in Philly. I had to stick around again to finish my photos for the Friends of The Rail Park, and so I decided to make a weekend of it. I visited some of the same neighborhoods I did on my last weekend in Philly: Port Richmond, Fishtown, Francisville, Brewerytown, and various parts of the southeast near the Italian Market. My love for Philly remains strong, and I think these photos are evidence to that. Included are the Venturi House, the Victorian apartment buildings of Parkside Ave., some industrial buildings, scenes from Port Richmond and Fishtown under the el, the Reading Viaduct and surrounding areas, the City Branch tunnel portion of the future rail park, and some scenes around the Divine Lorraine, including Nicholas Biddle’s Greek Revival building on Girard College’s campus, one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen. I was really excited to see that. Unfortunately, I only had a disposable camera on me at the time, so that was kind of a bummer, but it was cool to see nonetheless. I walked around with Tyler from Above Mountain Tops, which was really cool. It’s always fun to meet photographers from tumblr whose work I admire. I have more photos on the way, mostly from the shore, and next week I’m heading out to Pittsburgh, so I should have some great photos from there. Until next time…

Chris

Around the Riverwards & Various Philly

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Film 515webFilm 516web"Baby Missiles" - The War On Drugs Three weeks ago, my friend and I spent the weekend in Philly. We roamed around the Riverwards, near the Reading Viaduct, and through South Philly a bit, and also made it up to the PSFS Building, now the Loews Philadelphia Hotel, to take some great skyline pictures. It’s been a while since I’ve properly walked around Philly, and I’m glad i finally got to do it, even if the pictures came so late after I went. I’ve finally been getting around to some places that I’ve always wanted to see in Philly, and I plan on doing almost the same thing this weekend, as I’m planning on staying in Philly again. This weekend, I’ll likely be hitting the same areas in Port Richmond and Fishtown, and I’m hoping to get some better pictures of a few of the churches on Church Alley. I’m going to try and take a few pictures inside St Adalbert’s, and I’m also going to finally see the tunnel portion of the potential Rail Park and take some pictures of that as well.

I’ve said before that I really love Philly, since it’s more or less the first city i ever experienced. It’s very urban, very dense, and contains some really cool, unique neighborhoods that are hard to find anywhere else. Unlike many people that live in New York, I love Philly, and I think that it has massive potential to be a much better city than it already is. Philly’s rowhouse streets have a certain charm to them, and its size is just big enough to feel like a large city, while still having distinct neighborhoods that maintain a small-town feel. I’m really satisfied with this set of photos, as I think they capture the urban feel of Philadelphia, and I’m really excited to spend another weekend in Philly this weekend.

Chris

Up on the Viaduct

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"White Light White Heat" - The Velvet UndergroundBehold, the great Reading Viaduct. For years, I have heard about this spot, that has been deemed “Philly’s High Line”, and still looks like New York’s High Line did back in the pre-development days. Lined with abandoned industrial buildings, some new developments here and there, and covered in plants and graffiti, the Reading Viaduct is a serene oasis in the heart of Philly’s Callowhill neighborhood, with beautiful views of Center City’s skyscrapers and vistas extending over the streets it soars above. The buildings that line the Viaduct ooze with residential conversion potential and this area could easily become a revitalized area like Manhattan’s Chelsea or Meatpacking District. However, I kind of hope that level of development never happens, since Chelsea and the Meatpacking district are arguably a bit too posh. I hope the development around the Viaduct in what some like to call the “Loft District” remains more true to the industrial nature of the neighborhood. (although most of the new buildings in the Meatpacking District are designed by the preservation-minded, context-oriented firm of Morris Adjmi Architects).

The plans for the Reading Viaduct, like those of the High Line, are complex and need to jump through a series of governmental hurdles before they can begin to come to fruition. Needless to say, it will be awhile before anything happens up on the ol’ viaduct. For that reason, I contacted the Friends of the Rail Park, the group working on the bridge’s conversion into a park, and volunteered to take some publicity photos to help them in their crusade. This is the first wave of photos I’ve taken, but certainly not the last. This first wave was a bit more art-focused and more for my own purposes, and I used Joel Sternfeld’s photos of the High Line pre-development as my main source of inspiration. My next task is to return and get some photos that are more marketable to the general public. I also need to get into the tunnel that is part of the proposed park to take some pictures down there. Hopefully I’ll have all of that done next weekend.

Also, there is one building specifically in the Callowhill neighborhood that I’d like to point out – the Lasher Printing Building (5th photo). This Art Deco masterpiece is quite the hidden gem, and seeing as I love Art Deco architecture, I was really happy to be able to photograph this building; albeit, not in the best light. I guess I’ll have to return to capture it under less severe lighting conditions.

Stay tuned for more photos from Port Richmond, Kenzo, and Fishtown coming up later in the week!

Chris

Bays, Subways, and a Supermarket in (the District of) Columbia

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"Bratislava" - BeirutTwo weeks ago, after my weekend in New York, I spent a weekend in DC, visiting two friends. You may remember my excursion to DC last year, in which I took a series of what I personally deemed lackluster photos that didn’t capture DC all that well. Again, this time I don’t think I’ve sufficiently captured DC, but I think I did a better job than last time. To me, DC is distinctive for 3 main things: outstandingly photogenic subway (I know, they call them Metro) stations with giant cavernous tunnels and epicly long escalators, strong bay window game, and the largest concentration of office buildings under 150 feet of any city. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up in the business district downtown frequently enough to take a lot of pictures there, but I did get some great shots of the subway tunnels and the classic DC rowhouse bay windows. Of all the cities I’ve seen, I’d say DC is right up there with Philly and San Francisco in terms of bay window game. DC’s bay windows, however, are distinct because they rise the length of the facades. Whereas Philly and Frisco have bay windows that extend out over the street, DC’s become part of the whole building. This is only possible because most of DC’s homes are set back from the street about 10-15 feet, with gardens in front. If those homes formed the streetwall, they would impede pedestrian movement, and most likely not be allowed.

Another thing i really love about DC is its diversity. Although it is gentrifying and becoming more homogeneous by the day, DC retains a diversity of restaurants and populations from around the world. In my one weekend, I visited Serbian, Russian, Ethiopian, Salvadorian, and Mexican bars/restaurants. DC’s ethnic communities, although scattered, are quite present around the city.
As much as I like DC, it’s quite different from the cities I’m more accustomed to, like New York, Philly and Pittsburgh. DC has been cleaned up quite a bit from its days of urban blight and crime-infestation in the latter half of the 20th century, as is happening with most cities these days. Not that that’s a bad thing, in fact, quite the opposite, it’s a great thing. But every time I visit DC, I’m shocked by how clean everything is. The sidewalks are even paved with bricks instead of concrete to mask their dirtiness in many neighborhoods. I don’t know quite enough about why the sidewalks are paved with brick, and whether or not this is a recent innovation or a tradition, but it always takes me by surprise. For being such an eastern city, with a well-developed subway system and largely urban, walk-able neighborhoods, DC is shockingly clean.
Also, continuing in my fairly recent tradition of taking pictures of old supermarkets, I present to you Brookville Supermarket in Cleveland Park. I was pumped when I stumbled across this one – the signage is wonderful, the aisles are low, and the freezer aisle consists of a uniform wall of glass. I do love old supermarkets. Note the Allen Ginsberg reference in the title of this post.
Stay tuned for photos of Philly coming soon!
Chris

New York, I Miss You

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted, considering how many photos I’ve been shooting lately, but at long last, here is the first set of shots that I’ve taken recently. These, as you may be able to tell, were all taken in New York. I was there three weeks ago for a weekend, and I walked a bit downtown, from the East Village down to TriBeCa and back up through Soho, and then up the east side through Midtown East, over the Queensboro, through Long Island City and into Astoria. These photos were taken in all those neighborhoods. Also, the final photo is of the George Washington Bridge in Harlem. My friend and I drove Manhattan from tip to tip in an effort to avoid Holland Tunnel traffic, and it worked quite well all things told, since the bridge was nearly empty. It still astounds me how few entrances and exits there are from the island of Manhattan.

I’m really missing New York this summer. I was missing it a lot more in the beginning than I am now, but every time I go back for a visit, I love being there. The city in the summer is a whole new animal, as street cafes open, more people walk outside, and there is so much more to see. In an effort to counteract my missing New York, I’ve been walking around and exploring Philly a bit more, and I got down to DC a few weekends ago, so there will be more photos from those excursions to come. I’ve been loving Philly this summer, and I’m finally getting out to see some areas and cool things that I’ve never seen before (Reading Viaduct most especially), so I have some shots that I really like to come from Philly soon.
Stay tuned for the next post from DC, and Philly shortly thereafter, and then likely more Philly, and then…probably more Philly.
Chris

Wheaton, Gloucester City, & the Divine Lorraine

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"No Need For a Leader" - Unknown Mortal OrchestraThis is my latest hodgepodge of photos, from generally all over the place. I’ve combined some Stephen Shore-esque shots of old cars in motel parking lots and intersection in small towns in South Jersey with a few shots I took in Philly of more old cars, the Divine Lorraine Hotel, sunsets, and subways. Attached for music is a new personal favorite “No Need For a Leader” by Unknown Mortal Orchestra.

I’ve been trying to get out more in South Jersey, which is where I grew up. As I mentioned, I’m a huge fan of Stephen Shore’s photographs from across America in the 1970’s (he’s generally known as a pioneer of the new topographics movement) and since I started seriously looking at his work, I’ve subconsciously been emulating it. I think the first photo of the car in front of the motel is the most Shore-esque photo from this set, although the photos from Gloucester of the Walt Whitman Bridge are pretty comparable. They’re both supposed to represent parts of the American landscape that often get left behind and passed by on the highways that crisscross the nation. The Motel picture is off of Rt. 30 in South Jersey, which can be easily bypassed on the way to the shore via the Atlantic City Expressway. It was taken in Atco, New Jersey, generally a town that seems stuck in time, with dive bars, motels, and auto shops lining the main drag of Rt. 30 that runs through it. Likewise, Gloucester City is the small, 11,000 person town that lies at the southern edge of the Walt Whitman bridge. I’ve passed over a million times, but again, it’s one of the cities that became difficult to access after highways were built over top of and around it. In order to actually get into Gloucester City from the Walt Whitman, one has to drive around a series of local roads and then approach the city from its southern edge, while the bridge soars over the town’s northern edge, making about a 15 minute drive into town from the bridge that goes straight over its main street. Probably something Walt Whitman would not have been proud of. Gloucester City is pretty cool once there, however. Still a thriving working class city, a rarity in the Mid-Atlantic region, Gloucester has local bars and restaurants, a working shipping dock, and local restaurants and ice creams joints lining its main streets. On the day I visited, block parties were being hosted, people were sitting on their porches, and little kids were playing in makeshift pools in the beds of pickup trucks. Gloucester City is one of the more common places that became, with the building of the interstate highways, an uncommon place.

In the same vein, there are also some photos of the abandoned Wheaton Plastics Factory which sits hulking over a lake in Weymouth, New Jersey, deep in the reaches of the woods off the jersey shore. Another town that is easily forgotten because of the building of the Garden State Parkway, Weymouth and neighboring Mays Landing are interesting places that seem to have been left behind. Plans were in place around 2006 to convert the factory complex into apartments, but a fire burned down about half the complex, leaving only the buildings pictured above. They still stand proud and tall, stubbornly decaying into the surrounding landscape. I hope to get back here sometime this summer to get some better photos of the Wheaton Complex.

Finally, some photos from Philadelphia. These last shots are of the Divine Lorraine, one amazing sunset, and a SEPTA Market-Frankford Line subway car. The most interesting thing here is the Divine Lorraine, which is under development by Eric Blumenfeld, Broad Street’s most prominent developer. It’s currently abandoned, as it has been for some time, and the plan is to convert it to apartments, with plans by another developer to build a grocery store, retail and apartment complex on the lot next door. As an urban studies major who follows development in Philly, the development of this lot is huge. The Divine Lorraine is one of the key parts of opening up the development and re-population of North Philly, a region of the city that has long seen disinvestment and population decline. If anybody can do it, it seems, it would be Blumenfeld, who built both 777 South Broad and Southstar Lofts, as well as a number of properties of North Broad St. With easy access to one of two subway lines in Philly, the Divine Lorraine is located close to Temple and Center City, and offers easy access to either via the subway. Philly is finally doing good enough for this kind of project to be viable, as it would have been impossible just ten years ago when there was no faith in the Philly real estate market and the building boom around Temple had been merely a pipe dream. I’m excited to see this building get developed, I just hope it happens relatively soon, since market down cycles have killed proposals here before. My fingers will be crossed.

I have a roll of film from NYC that I shot two weeks ago and a roll from Washington DC where I just visited this weekend that I need to get developed, which I should have soon. Then, this weekend, I’ll be shooting in Philly at the Reading Viaduct for Friends of the Rail Park, which I’m really excited about, so stay tuned for a lot of photos coming up soon. I just have to find a lab near Philly to get my film developed, as I’m a little too far from my favorite lab in South Jersey to get my shots developed there. Once that happens, I’ll have a ton of photos, and probably equally long descriptions to go with them. Hope you enjoyed these, and until next time…

Chris

The Trains in Hammonton

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I first learned of the trains at Hammonton through somebody else’s photos of them. Being an avid lover of all things old, all things rail, and all things romantic, I decided long ago that I would go to see them for myself someday. This was about a year ago.

I finally saw them for the first time recently. It doesn’t mark the first time I’ve seen abandoned trains in rural New Jersey–I went two years ago to see the Morris County Central train in Newfoundland, New Jersey. Inspired, as most people are, by a movie I saw that took place near it, I had to see it for myself. But, considering the fact I didn’t have a car and the fact that it was closer to an active railway, I was too scared to really do any significant exploration, and so my sojourn there ended quite earlier than I thought it should have.

In marked contrast, the trains at Hammonton are easier to explore. First and foremost, I can get to them in a car, and second, they are further from any active rail uses. Besides the Southern Railroad of New Jersey shop that stands down the street from these abandoned wonders, there is little preventing one from climbing inside the cars, especially on a weekend when the train workers at the shop are off duty.

One weekend, I decided on a whim, after all too much driving through the suburbs of Philadelphia, to get a slice of pizza in Hammonton on my way down to the shore. Bruni’s Pizzeria is one of my Uncle’s favorite places to eat in Hammonton, and I always try to follow through with his recommendations when it comes to food, as he rarely falters in his culinary choices. Unfortunately for me, the pizza place only sold slices for lunch, and seeing as it was 5:00, I could only buy a whole pie. The guy at the counter merely said “Sorry, Buddy” when I told him I drove all the way down to try it, and so I left, slightly frustrated. I walked back to my car, parked about 5 blocks away, since all the roads were closed off for the Food Truck Festival, and contemplated what to do next.

As I got in my car, I vaguely remembered that the abandoned trains I had read about before were close by. I consulted my great technology to see where the tracks were, and sure enough they laid only about 5 miles away from me. Thus, my adventure was determined.

I pulled off of S Egg Harbor Rd., just barely seeing the turn for Spring Rd. My first glimpse afforded me the train shop on the right and the hulking, rusting figures on the left. I had never seen so many old trains in one location; in general it is rare to find more than one abandoned old train in any given location. Here, there are twelve in total. Twelve sleeping, rusty giants, primed for climbing and walking through, and ready to be photographed. I made haste to park my car across the street in the dirt on the side of the road where a little rain had gathered from a drizzle the day before.

I only had so much time to explore the trains by myself the first time, since I was already late to dinner with my family who awaited me down the shore, at this point about 45 minutes away still. I quickly snapped some pictures and stepped inside the car that’s easiest to walk in and the most intact: the one that reads “Maine Coast” on its exterior. The seats still sat in neat rows, largely undisturbed from the years of neglect and abandonment they had seen. I walked over to the baby blue and yellow locomotive that sat under the trestle, chained to a Southern Railroad of New Jersey red and black locomotive which faced the opposite direction, took a few pictures, and then jumped back in the car.

The rest of my ride took me through backroads lined with blueberry fields and speeding pickup trucks. I blasted Creedence and rolled the windows down, and took it all in. Surely, I thought, I’ll come back to the trains when time affords it.

The second time I went to the trains was when Nick and I were driving back from the shore, stopping wherever we pleased, wherever we saw fit. We were taking backroads to avoid traffic, and we ended up in Hammonton yet again. Without telling Nick, I took him to where the trains were. He was pretty taken aback at first, and to be honest, so was I, seeing them a first time failed to really diminish the sense of wonder one is filled with upon seeing rail cars up close and personal. We pulled into the same spot again, and this go around, I had ample time to walk around and explore. So I did.

I went back inside the Maine Coast car. Its seats sat just as they had the other day, light shining in from the sun which was getting lower in the sky. I looked around the car, and wondered what kinds of people it had carried back in its heyday. Who sat in these cars? Who sat at the bridge tables and socialized on their ride? How much did tickets cost? The luggage racks above the seats were small, and I wondered how anybody fit enough luggage for a journey on them. Where did the Maine Coast car go, anyway? Did people need to pack big bags for trips on this car, or was it mostly a local train? And how the hell did it end up in South Jersey if it traveled along the rocky coast of Maine?

We walked over to the Blue and Yellow locomotive and the SRRNJ car attached to it, but found that there was nowhere one could go inside those cars. In fact, all of the locomotives were closed and locked, with no entry method. But one could still imagine all the train conductors that once drove these. These locomotives were clearly designed to pull freight, unlike the Maine Coast, which would have likely had a smaller, passenger locomotive. I left my imagination to wonder at how they sounded in their prime, humming as they sat in the railyard, being hitched for a journey, or riding along the rials, cruising through South Jersey in the days before ConRail and the downfall of rail travel. These trains emanated a beauty that Norfolk Southern and CSX trains have a hard time matching. Their colors are decidedly more subdued than these pale blue and yellow colors, which fit beautifully into the South Jersey landscape of blueberry fields, seaside towns, and small working hamlets. There were several more locomotives that we saw, and then a few boxcars and flatbed cars which we climbed on top of, but nothing that we could get inside of.

Moving back towards where we came, we walked into the other cars that sat to the north of “Maine Coast”. There were a few more passenger cars linked together. They weren’t really passenger cars so much as they were sleepers and dining cars. Both of the ones we walked in had bars inside, one with an old-school bottle of Corona. Obviously, this couldn’t have been an original artifact so much as the leaving token of some wanderer like ourselves some years ago, which nobody had ever picked up. Behind the bar were pictures of people working on the railroad–people laying tracks, building locomotives, and the like. Faded and worn, they remained bolted to the wall, relics of a time when railroads employed hundreds of thousands and presented great hope for America. These were the people that built America’s first proper infrastructure network, these are the ghosts that have vanished, whose memories remain only in the old train graveyards that dot rural municipalities across the country, the people whose photographs are bolted into the walls of the rusting machines that they themselves created so long ago, as if they are chained to go down with their ships like the great sea captains of old.

Taking a ride in one of these trains would have been twice as glamorous as riding in any Acela Express. Already, trains like the Blue Comet, which crashed relatively close to this site, were able to reach speeds of up to ninety miles per hour. What’s more, they contained leather seating, lockers, overhead storage, beds, and bars, often all in one car. The people that rode in these cars on their way down to the Jersey Shore were probably rich main-liners and South jersey industrialists who had the luxury of affording second homes in quaint towns like Cape May, Ludlam’s Landing, and Atlantic City. These towns were booming 19th century shoretowns. Unfortunately, the only one that survives today from its early state is Cape May, which is littered with dollhouse style Victorian mansions, lining the beach in their stately gazes, oozing wealth and good fortune. What kind of industrialists rode these trains on their way to their second homes? Did Joseph Wharton ride them? Did Charles K. Landis ride them on the way to his new developments of Sea Isle and Vineland? What great Americans took passage on the same trains that I stood in just yesterday, with my digital camera, my skinny jeans and my electronic car key in my pocket? What kind of America did they envision for 2015?

When I think of old trains, I inevitably think of how cars ruined American cities. I think of how dependent we have become on cars because of suburbanizaion and the cheapness of fuel. I think of how much better off we would be if train travel was restored to its glory days at the turn of the century. I think of how people rode through forests and cities, looking out the windows and watching the world go by, and how they saw things differently than people in cars saw things. I think of Mom-mom as a little girl, riding the Pennsylvania Railroad on the way from Haverford to a young Sea Isle, as yet not covered in large, monotonous duplexes on every block. I think of the people that built the Bungie, and the memories they had, and they lives they led in that house, and how they built it with their own hands, and didn’t pay somebody else to do the hard work for them. I think of resiliency and beauty, and poetry and solid foundations, and I think of an America that has been lost to time, but which still exists on the walls of old abandoned train cars and which still exists in the memories of my grandmother and those who were around to experience it. I hope that one day, America will realize its fault with the car and begin to see trains as the answer, and that one day, trains will again be things we are proud of, and not just things that we remember. Maybe one day my dreams will come true, but for now, the only memories of trains must be had second hand through railcars that sit alongside of gravel roads designed for cars, seemingly cast aside to make way for the new dominant form of transportation which has replaced them