September 2nd, 2011

Blighted Schoolhouse

A picturesque neighborhood of townhouses sits under the brown and rust-orange hues of Philadelphia's skyline.
Nicely manicured lawns of vibrant green grow in a complete contradiction to anything that is found even as little as a single block outside the community.
The city's efforts to beautify the area through redevelopment is a good idea, but as it sits now things seem a bit surreal as the old and run-down clash against the clean and new.
No matter how well maintained your back lawn may be, it's hard to ignore that the city around you is still a far cry from the suburban neighborhood it pretends to be.
This fact becomes even more evident as the sun sets and the towering corpses of the city stretch their shadows over the evenly mowed property of their new neighbors.

One such reminder of the greater city is this long disused elementary school. Its walls of broken windows stand high above the rows of vinyl-sided two story townhouses.
Being a location which has seen plenty of traffic, the inside of this place has been torn apart. What hasn't been broken into fine pieces has been painted over with numerous tags.
Little remains herein to remind us that this was once a school, save the long hallways of open doors, and the rather unique caged rooftop gymnasium.
This school is also a frequented location for photographers such as myself. I have seen so many images of this place posted online that I almost felt as if adding my own work to
the existing flood was a pointless endeavor. However, shortly after entering the school I felt slightly ashamed for thinking such thoughts, as that kind of mindset is counter-productive to my purpose.
So, I filmed what there was to film.

As I just stated; some of you may recognize this school from images elsewhere online. Though the place may be well documented already, I think part of the “Urban Exploration” concept
as a whole is the variety in which people observe the same thing. Unfortunately I see that some people have forgotten this, or perhaps never understood it in the first place.
To them once a place becomes too well-known it looses any value, and those documenting it after them are seen as lesser people for it.
This kind of mindset is one of the reasons why Christina and myself have distanced ourselves from any UE websites or forums, and find comfort in working outside of those systems.

Several hundred people may have photographed these same halls before me, and a several hundred more may well do so after I have gone.
What is of value here is not how unique or unheard of this location itself is, but the wide variety in which this place can be perceived. People don't always realize it,
but photography can be a very personal thing, and often the only way to truly understand something (or in this case someplace) is to witness it through different people's eyes.


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