Waterbury Brass

Hello LJ, hope all is well. It seems every time I log in the home page here is different in some way, which is good I suppose, as perhaps its an effort on LJ's part to attract more users. Here's the latest location from our (my partner and my) website. I plan to always share our entries here, because LJ really did help us hone our skills, both in writing and in photography/video. The community was (and still is?) a far different place than the toxic mire which most social media has become. Glad it's still kickin' and hopefully a renascence is somewhere in the future. All that said, on to the post — 

Long ago this region was founded upon brass, an industrious calling  which found a great many factories sprouting along the banks of Mad  River, replacing the tall marsh grasses and wildflower as it winds  through the city of Waterbury, Connecticut. The backbone of the city  remains to this day, though it has long been broken, now little more  than weathering brick-red protrusions which stand above the shallow  skyline.

From atop the bluff which the abandoned Holy Land theme park  sits you can truly see the scope of how industrious Waterbury was  during its prime, an era which can be more-or-less pinpointed to have  began when the city was contracted to supply the United States military  with the buttons needed for their uniforms during the War of 1812.  Quickly the city became known as the brass capital of the country, a  title which it held for well over a century, until the eventual collapse  of the city's brass industry, which was all but a memory to most by the  late 1970's.

We visited several sites on this chilly spring day, but focused  primarily on the home of the once-famous Waterbury Button Company from  the 1840's until its eventual purchase and re-branding to Waterbury  Companies Inc. in 1945. The company still exists today, though in a  markedly different form, with its headquarters across town from its  former home on the edge of Mad River.

What greeted us within the hulls of the old factories was not unexpected  - Severely decayed wood hung on loose supports which dangled from  equally decayed brick walls. The steel skeletons and fireproof  stairwells of the buildings were, by and large, the sole elements  keeping these structures from utter collapse. All around were signs of  vagrants, heaps of trash, and graffiti several generations thick. Not  much remains of the industrious purpose which once called these streets  home, or the American-made pride which emanated from it. In its stead we  find literal mounds of trash and disused needles. The symbolism is  obvious, and thus we see no point in dwelling upon it here.

Room after room, corridor after corridor, we experienced the same scene -  Destruction, both man-made and natural, dotted with a few faded  reminders of what once was. A repetitive and sobering pulse of ruin.  However, in one of the larger structure we came upon an unexpected  sight. At the bottom of a stairwell, just barely visible in the murky  shadows, we spotted the shoulders of a torso protruding above the  debris. Luckily this day we were joined by both Lerch and Vacant New Jersey, long-time colleagues of ours, who we have joined in numerous outings  through the years. Together we stepped outside into the daylight to  gather our thoughts, and prepare ourselves for the very real possibility  that we were about to uncover a corpse in the derelict warehouse  building. We decided that the best course of action was to immediately  return and check to see if the person was alive, and if they were, see  if they required aid. Walking back up the dark hallway we hoped against  reality that the body would somehow have vanished during our short  hiatus, but it remained. Long ago the stairs had been removed from this  stairwell, and the landing which the torso now lay in was a drop of  several feet onto a questionable pile of rubble and broken glass. We  approached the edge of the cement flooring and yelled down, preying for a  response. Silence. We yelled again, this time informing them that we  were not police, but if they were indeed hurt, we would have to call it  in. This garnered a reply, mumbled as it were. Slowly the body before us  stood up and dusted themselves off. 

We helped him climb out of the hole, while he explained that he thought  we were security and had hid away as to not be discovered. He then  hugged us, and thanked us for being concerned enough to make sure he was  safe. After a few minutes of small talk he said he was taking our  chance meeting as a sign to move on and stay away from the property for  good. His words seemed genuine, and we hope he did manage to find  himself in a better way since our meeting.

Well, hope everyone enjoyed the post. We don't often document industrial sites, but this place was deeply intriguing venture, and has certainly broadened our interest in visiting sites of this nature in the future.

~Rusty


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