An abandoned resort like you've never seen before.
August 31, 2017 6:55 AM   Subscribe

Abandoned States is a fascinating project by Pablo Iglesias Maurer, who found 1960s matchbooks with images from an idyllic resort in upstate New York. He revisited the condemned site and not only recaptured subjects of original illustrations exactly, but combined them into compelling animated GIFs.
posted by mathowie (64 comments total) 106 users marked this as a favorite
 
That is wonderfully creepy.
posted by Ipsifendus at 7:07 AM on August 31 [3 favorites]


I love this. Thanks.

Dan Bell did a walkthrough of Penn Hills on his Youtube channel a little while back:

ABANDONED PENN HILLS : Legendary 70s Swingers Resort in the Poconos (Dead Motel Series)
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:10 AM on August 31 [6 favorites]


Entropy illustrated. Rotting places all seem to acquire the same patina of graffiti, water stain, and weeds.
posted by notyou at 7:16 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Very well done. Thanks for this.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:18 AM on August 31


That's pretty excellent. And the "before" photos all look like sets from Legion.
posted by ejs at 7:22 AM on August 31 [5 favorites]


I got curious about the - tee hee - Homowack Lodge in the link and found this bit of background.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:22 AM on August 31 [2 favorites]


The unfortunately named Homowack Lodge was one of the many Borscht Belt resorts that were popular from the 1920’s- 1960’s, but declined in the 70’s and 80’s, when the popularity of resorts were replaced by cheap airfare to other places, seaside trips and private vacation homes. Homowack was a family resort before being turned into a day camp for Hasidic girls. The city forced it to close in 2009 for safety and health violations, such as toxic mold and faulty wiring.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:23 AM on August 31 [2 favorites]


That's pretty excellent. And the "after" photos all look like sets from Fallout 4.
posted by Nelson at 7:25 AM on August 31 [5 favorites]


Finding those spots and the perfect locations from which to snap each picture -- great stuff.
posted by klausman at 7:27 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


The most incredible part to me as a photographer is he captured the scenes exactly. It's really difficult to see a scene, go back to it, and not only find the exact spot to recapture it, but also know the precise length lens and zoom level to get things to line up. This guy did incredible work in all these.
posted by mathowie at 7:27 AM on August 31 [35 favorites]


ABANDONED PENN HILLS : Legendary 70s Swingers Resort in the Poconos (Dead Motel Series)

DEES NUTS
posted by uncleozzy at 7:33 AM on August 31 [2 favorites]


Everything dies.
We are all worm feed in convenient, medium-to-long term packaging.
posted by signal at 7:50 AM on August 31


This is wonderful.

I like that he transcribes the notes on some of the postcards. Example:
The caption on the back of this Pocono resort's postcard touts this theater as the "resort world's most modern showplace." With a capacity of 1200, it remains splendorous even in disrepair. This postcard is also postmarked, and filled out. "Having a lovely weekend here. All pleasure - only exercise is rowing a boat and playing shuffleboard! Nice to be lady-like and not "rushing" about! We will see you soon."
How quickly a lovely place becomes a different kind of lovely place, as the trees reclaim their territory.
posted by Caxton1476 at 7:53 AM on August 31 [2 favorites]


This is amazing.
posted by rtha at 7:53 AM on August 31


I had a wonderful vacation at Grossingers.
Sad to see abandonment.
posted by davebarnes at 8:05 AM on August 31 [2 favorites]


What a shame that more of the materials in these building has not been salvaged/repurposed.
Around here (PNW) reclaimed bowling alley wood gets a pretty price at salvage yards - I've seen some awewome countertops made from it!
posted by dbmcd at 8:09 AM on August 31 [7 favorites]


"Dear Jonnie: If you were only here, I would take you out for a horse-back ride - or else we could go golfing. Be good until I see you. Dr. Waterman."

Who signs a postcard "Dr. Waterman"? What exactly was his relationship to Jonnie?

Also, why is one of the Pocono resorts unnamed? He just throws that out there with no explanation?
posted by Literaryhero at 8:15 AM on August 31 [7 favorites]


Ever feel like you're in a dying civilization?
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 8:44 AM on August 31 [9 favorites]




On a couple of them you can see the same tree in both pics, which gives me a tingle.
posted by Atom Eyes at 8:49 AM on August 31 [3 favorites]


Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:53 AM on August 31 [5 favorites]


I always thought these resorts in the Catskills or Poconos sounded terrific, much more fun than the family vacations we took when I was a teenager. To go off to some leafy green place, with swimming and horseback riding, and dine and dance and be entertained in the evening? And actually STAY there, and be free to just wander around doing kid stuff? You could get acquainted with the other kids and play and play. Or sit on a shady porch reading a book from the lodge library. Maybe one night there's a campfire with s'mores and singalongs. The cabin is musty and woodsy and the kids get to sleep in the loft. In bunk beds. There's a fabulous treehouse that was accumulated over decades, carved with the initials of kids you will never know, and you sit up there with a couple new friends from a nearby cabin. In the afternoon, there's a short trek to the camp store for ice cream. There's a craft room presided over by some encouraging and non-judgemental college kid, and plenty of art supplies. Games to play and people to play them with. Boat rides on the lake. No one is going anywhere, so no hollering and fussing is needed. There's a lifeguard so you can swim whether or not the parents want to go. In fact the parents feel safe enough to give the kids the run of the place. At the end of the week you wave goodbye, knowing you'll be back next year and partaking of the rituals and traditions again.

So much nicer than sitting in a hot station wagon all day, listening to your siblings whine "are we there yet" and then camping in a place where there isn't even any swimming and your parents make you stay within sight because who knows what scary thing might happen if you ever spoke to a stranger.

Or being cooped up on an airplane and then SUPERVISED in some faraway place, trekking through museums and hearing how lucky you are to have this cultural outing.

I think it was the supervision that wore on me the most, on family vacations, at 12 or 15 or 17. These resorts sounded like a vacation that didn't require that. But now they just sound relaxing and pleasant. Like a cruise but with larger bedrooms, less shopping, less worry about your appearance, less pressure to drink, and just the right amount of wilderness.

I still wanna go.
posted by elizilla at 9:04 AM on August 31 [36 favorites]


This sets off a pet peeve of mine. When taking "re-creation" photos of old photos, why do photographers so often fail to align the two photos exactly?

This photographer had a really great idea and took some really great photos, and he did a pretty good job lining them up so that they're from almost the same viewpoint as the originals.

But not a perfect job. Why not just make it exact, so that, e.g., the edge of the swimming pool is in exactly the same place in both photos? Seems like that would only take a couple extra minutes of crop-and-zoom. Is there a real reason for this? Because it's not just this guy, I see it all the time.
posted by gurple at 9:06 AM on August 31


This is so great! I'm currently reading Paul Auster's new novel, 4 3 2 1, in which he mentions Poconos resorts like Grossinger's, so I was googling them to see what they were like during the book's time period. I did find a few random before and after photos spread over several websites, but this is so much better.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:08 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


It's a lot harder than you think gurple. It's not just crop and zoom, you have to precisely match the lens focal length, the lens distortion, the perspective. If the camera is tilted 1° wrong in any of three directions the photo will be slightly different in a way you can't correct later.

See also perspective control lens.
posted by Nelson at 9:10 AM on August 31 [17 favorites]


Fun fact: Miranda July's birth name is Grossinger, and her grandparents ran Grossinger's resort.
posted by pxe2000 at 9:12 AM on August 31 [8 favorites]


If the camera is tilted 1° wrong in any of three directions the photo will be slightly different in a way you can't correct later.

I wonder if there's an opportunity, then, for a simple piece of software that would make fixing this kind of thing easy. Nonlinear warping alignment of two 2D datasets is a pretty common task in a lot of fields (like mine, mass spectrometry proteomics). I bet there are tens of thousands of software engineers who could put something workable together in an afternoon. Would people use it?
posted by gurple at 9:13 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


I've seen a lot of abandoned photos but I love the comparison shots here. Neat!
posted by graventy at 9:19 AM on August 31


I stayed at the Concord for All-State Choir in 1991, 1992 and 1993. The place was huge and magical. Two years ago my wife and I went to a B&B in that area for our anniversary and I insisted on driving past the site which is now just a bunch of rubble. As I stood there looking, a guy drove by in a pickup truck and yelled "It's gone!" in a tone that suggested he had had quite enough of tourists gawking at the corpse of the area's former economic engine.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:28 AM on August 31 [6 favorites]


Oh wow, I used to love going to the Homowack as a kid in the 80s. At that point it was kosher, but not strictly Hasidic. We used to take the Shortline Bus from Brooklyn. It was the most magical place in the world (other than Disney World, of course), full of nooks and crannies and passages to nowhere, a shooting range, an indoor tennis court, a mini-golf course, and -- my personal favourite -- tons of vintage 1980s arcade games. I think the last time I was there was 20 years ago, for a cousin's bar mitzvah.

RIP, Homowack.
posted by greatgefilte at 9:28 AM on August 31 [8 favorites]


The thing is that, in an odd way, the pictures of these resorts in disrepair is a sign of progress. Many of them existed in large part due to anti-Semitism necessitating vacation destinations that would be safe for Jewish vacationers looking to get away - hence why many were several hours out of NYC, with its large and prosperous Jewish-American community. But as travel became safer, the charm of these resorts wore off, and they fell into ruin.

So, while it's sad to see them as abandoned ruins, it's also a bit hopeful as well, as the social conditions that made them viable no longer exist (hopefully.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:37 AM on August 31 [8 favorites]


I stayed at the Concord for All-State Choir in 1991, 1992 and 1993. The place was huge and magical.

Me, too!

And I know other people from my generation who went to some of these places every year. I feel like a ghost now.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:45 AM on August 31 [2 favorites]


Ever feel like you're in a dying civilization?

The Catskills, Poconos, Berkshires, and Adirondacks were (kinda sorta) killed by cheap Caribbean airfare and Jewish assimilation*, not the downfall of civilization.


*The (racist and classist) cliche is that Jews are the new Episcopalians and Asians are the new Jews. That's partially true in terms of country clubs and Ivy League admissions. "Just at the moment when Harvard, Yale, and Princeton have presidents named Rudenstine, Levin, and Shapiro, those institutions are widely suspected of having informal ceilings on Asian admissions, of the kind that were imposed on Jews two generations ago."
posted by leotrotsky at 9:56 AM on August 31 [2 favorites]


Ever feel like you're in a dying civilization?
Sort of a weird reaction. I mean, perhaps, but not because buildings no longer serve the purpose they originally did. Abandoned buildings are kind of sad and when paired with their former life, certainly so, but the world moves on. Its like despairing a stack of typewriters or flip phones.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 9:58 AM on August 31


@UnderpantsMonster:

Were you there when we did Three Old Crows and Saul?
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:59 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


That's pretty excellent. And the "after" photos all look like sets from Fallout 4.

Yeah, but my first reaction was that the graphic designers for Nuka World did a really good job.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:00 AM on August 31 [2 favorites]


@UnderpantsMonster:

Were you there when we did Three Old Crows and Saul?


OMG Saul! I still get bits of that Alto part running through my head sometimes!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:14 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Ha! Well, you may have seen me in a clown outfit at some point. That was my thing back then.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:15 AM on August 31


a simple piece of software that would make fixing this kind of thing easy

The problem is it's not doable in general because the 2d picture hasn't captured all the 3d information from the scene. You'll never be able to recover the bits of image that are hidden behind a tree because . But you can fake alignment pretty well with editing tools like the Photoshop Perspective Tool. With enough fiddling the result isn't perfect but gets pretty close.

I wonder if someone's automated the whole process already, perhaps by having the user select a few points of alignment between a before and after image. Or have some AI algorithm guess what the alignment points should be. For that matter I've seen demos of research where software reconstructs a 3d scene from a flat 2d picture using inference, ideally with multiple photographs. See also light-field cameras like the Lytro that let you adjust the focus after the photo is taken.
posted by Nelson at 10:24 AM on August 31 [3 favorites]


I am so incredibly happy to see this here.

Mauer was also an Major League Soccer/DC United beat reporter who has a podcast that I like and is a funny follow on Twitter. I knew he worked on other things and it's very weird and cool to see his work pop here in a non-soccer function.
posted by Tevin at 10:55 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Great post! Totally agree on the Fallout 4 assesments. I'll bet anyone 1000 caps that one of the abandoned lakeside resorts is a deathclaw nest.

Also if I lived near here, I'd go put up 3 mannequins so they'd be the same people in the same position 50+ years later. Waiting. sooooo creepy.
posted by Zack_Replica at 11:13 AM on August 31 [2 favorites]


There was a similar abandoned lakeside resort in Last of Us. In fact, the title of the chapter is Lakeside Resort.
posted by zakur at 11:54 AM on August 31


Very cool project, thanks for posting this.
Best of the Web!
posted by carter at 11:55 AM on August 31


Literaryhero: " Also, why is one of the Pocono resorts unnamed? He just throws that out there with no explanation?"

I suppose to discourage other visitors for some reason. Some of his posts in the Abandoned DC series are intentionally vague about the exact location. BTW he was arrested one time doing this.
posted by exogenous at 11:58 AM on August 31 [2 favorites]


I wonder if someone's automated the whole process already, perhaps by having the user select a few points of alignment between a before and after image. Or have some AI algorithm guess what the alignment points should be.

Yes, sort of. There are a few different approaches and the leader (or at least the thing that was still the leader the last time I installed panorama stitching software) was a model called SIFT (an implementation; a white paper comparing it to the previous standards [PDF]). Image transformation and warping is useful when you want to align a satellite image to a map or stitch together a panorama from overlapping images. The more different the source images are, though, the more you'll have to select control points manually. Presumably the challenge with these isn't just resolution and alignment but the fact that the control points themselves might not exist in one image in the pair.

I suppose the smart thing to do would be to write a Photoshop plugin that implements SIFT for the purpose of aligning overlays and animations. If you could extend the capability to video there's probably Hollywood money to be made there since it would allow selective replacement in historic props.
posted by fedward at 12:03 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Judging at least by the carpets and bowling alley equipment, these places were never getting any redecorations - seems like just build, use until completely exhausted, abandon.
I mean, this may have been a resort which lost its purpose, but there is a mall in my city which was redecorated after only 15 years of use.
posted by Laotic at 12:05 PM on August 31


The 1978 movie Magic partly takes place at an abandoned Catskill resort. I recommend it if anyone's curious about what the area looked like back then. Dirty Dancing, set in 1962 IIRC, is probably set at the peak of these segregated resorts' place in U.S. society.
posted by morspin at 12:47 PM on August 31


The cocktail lounge shot has me trying so hard to push the chair in the 'now' frame into place with my mind that I gave myself a nosebleed.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:00 PM on August 31 [3 favorites]


The 2013 documentary When Comedy Went to School is all about the Catskills resorts and their place in American Jewish history.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:02 PM on August 31 [3 favorites]


Being from the UK, it always baffled me that property of this size would be just completely abandoned. When you live in a country that would fit into Texas three times over, it's hard to get your head around the idea of land and buildings just being left to rot. We have the odd derelict building here and there and some zones of abandoned buildings in old industrial cities, but things are never left completely empty for decades and certainly not on this sort of scale. Eventually they'll be demolished or rehabbed. There's just not enough space to let land lie fallow in this way.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:23 PM on August 31 [4 favorites]


The thing to remember is that these resorts are in pretty rural areas which had no need or ability for the resort facilities once they ceased to be economically viable. It's not a matter of them just being "left", but that there isn't anyone who could rehab them in a viable manner.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:27 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


I guess this is the thread where I get to tell people I went swimming in this pool when I was a kid.

That was Buck Hill Inn, which has a long story. Some of Buck Hill Inn's contemporaries, like Skytop Lodge managed to hang on through the bad times and are thriving again.
posted by lagomorphius at 2:11 PM on August 31 [2 favorites]


Dan Bell did a walkthrough of Penn Hills on his Youtube channel a little while back

Was just coming here to post that video. He has three more videos of other abandoned Pocono resorts:
Forgotten Playground : Abandoned Honeymoon Resort Deep in the Poconos (Birchwood Resort)
ABANDONED : INCREDIBLE 1970's Honeymoon Resort and Arabian Themed Nightclub in the Poconos (Summit Resort, also w/deleted scenes & commentary)
Abandoned in the Poconos : Unity House Resort (Dead Motel Series)
posted by radwolf76 at 2:14 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Is it just me, or is there something particularly... galling? poignant? about midcentury modern gone to hell?
posted by allthinky at 6:43 PM on August 31 [4 favorites]


I stayed at the Concord for All-State Choir in 1991, 1992 and 1993. The place was huge and magical.

I didn't go for any sort of all-state but my whole band trouped down there in the late 80's for some sort of music festival. Was music fests the concord's whole jam towards their end? (And I had no idea it's not in business at all anymore!)
posted by Tandem Affinity at 8:02 PM on August 31


I loved the couple of stray orange chairs that are still there in the cocktail one. I do wish more of these nature-focused regional resorts still existed, they're nice for families with young children when you want to get "away" and be outdoorsy but not have to help a toddler poop in the woods or fly 5 hours to get there. Kinda the choices around here are state parks, the Wisconsin Dells, or faded-grandeur Lake Michigan resorts. All of which are nice (well, I've never been to the Dells, but I'm told it's fun), but a thriving kid-friendly semi-rustic resort would be a lot of fun.

"I still wanna go."

I went on a dude ranch vacation in Texas that would tick all your boxes! Including the families who go back the same week every summer and their kids get to play with the same kids, and although my friend and I were the rare single-timers, everyone went out of their way to make us feel included even though we hadn't been going every year for 20 years! Twice daily horse rides, tree-shaded cabins, nightly outdoor theme parties, swimming, tennis, ping-pong, trivia, and excellent food.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:13 PM on August 31 [3 favorites]


Being from the UK, it always baffled me that property of this size would be just completely abandoned. When you live in a country that would fit into Texas three times over, it's hard to get your head around the idea of land and buildings just being left to rot.

These properties are about 90 miles from the largest city in the US.

Their downfall has less to do with the size of the country as it does with the development of affordable air travel and collapse of public transportation in the US.
posted by schmod at 8:52 PM on August 31


Is it just me, or is there something particularly... galling? poignant? about midcentury modern gone to hell?

Absolutely! It's like looking at Moon landing video and artifacts. Look how far we went. See how far we've fallen.
posted by notyou at 9:16 PM on August 31 [2 favorites]


The postcard inscription:

"Dear Jonnie: If you were only here, I would take you out for a horse-back ride - or else we could go golfing. Be good until I see you. Dr. Waterman."

That is one dedicated dentist.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:54 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Was music fests the concord's whole jam towards their end?

It fell on really hard times once the borscht belt wasn't necessary (due to A/C, affordable airline travel, and a marked decrease in anti-semitism) and they made it work as a convention space which included, apparently, a lot of music-related stuff. My fondest memory was, during one of the All-State events, meeting Don Muro (of Korg demo fame) at the Korg booth for educators.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:54 PM on August 31 [2 favorites]


"Dear Jonnie: If you were only here, I would take you out for a horse-back ride - or else we could go golfing. Be good until I see you. Dr. Waterman."

That is one dedicated dentist.


I'm reminded of that episode of M*A*S*H where Frank Burns is sending a chatty newsletter about the war to all his patients back home so that he won't lose all their future business while he's gone.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:20 AM on September 1 [2 favorites]


I wasn't expecting to find it was still open into the 90s. It makes me feel old to see this this scale and extent of decay and think that I could have visited it when I was in my 30s.

I was impressed by the perspective match.
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:13 AM on September 1


The abandoned discos of Italy (Third Place at Sony World Photography Awards 2015 Professional Competition / Architecture Category)
posted by LMGM at 10:52 AM on September 1




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