Bridge to nowhere
September 27, 2017 6:29 PM   Subscribe

“Thomasson: noun \ to-ma-son \ a preserved architectural relic which serves no purpose”. #トマソン is the Instagram community hashtag for the The Inexplicably Fascinating Secret World of Thomasson (previously.)
posted by Room 641-A (40 comments total) 78 users marked this as a favorite
 
The fascination is entirely explicable.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:37 PM on September 27 [7 favorites]


There was one on my old campus that I loved: a set of stairs going up to a door that had had a ramp built over it. Like so:

-----------------------------------------
_________
__________
____________
______________
_________________

The original design would've had you descend about ten feet from the path to hit the bottom of the landing of the stairs, and then go up ten feet by staircase. The ten foot drop was still there, but now bridged by the ramp. I would imagine at some point the ramp was built for accessibility's sake, but I was always curious why they didn't bother to demolish the existing stairs.
posted by codacorolla at 6:46 PM on September 27 [1 favorite]


Nooooooooo don’t show me this kind of stuff I have four projects due in the morning and I haven’t worked on any of them all day because I keep getting distracted by awesome FPPs like this ahhhhhhhhhhh
posted by Hermione Granger at 6:55 PM on September 27 [4 favorites]


I love this kind of stuff. They remind me of the doors in the Dark Tower series that would appear in the middle of nowhere and then disappear as soon as they had served their purpose. Same with these doors and stairs to nowhere; they either used to go somewhere, or still do if you approach them from the right angle (or dimension).
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:57 PM on September 27 [5 favorites]


Cool. The too-high Paris ladder, however, might be functional: they are sometimes required by code to go up buildings which are higher than the local fireladder will reach in an emergency. Often, they are found on back buildings - there’s a fire truck gate in front, but it only gives access to a medium-size firetruck which has a short-ish ladder. (We had a similar ‘too-high fire ladder’ when living in a back building in downtown Munich.)
posted by The Toad at 7:32 PM on September 27 [13 favorites]


Cool!

(I think you're right about the fire ladder, Toad.)
posted by praemunire at 7:38 PM on September 27 [1 favorite]


I love this stuff.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 7:54 PM on September 27 [1 favorite]


The too-high ladder made me very nervous.

As I read the article, I grew increasingly worried that it would never tell me the origin of the name, Thomasson. I breathed a sigh of relief when it finally did. (And it was awesome.)
posted by lovecrafty at 8:05 PM on September 27 [7 favorites]


Best of web.
posted by midmarch snowman at 8:07 PM on September 27 [2 favorites]


I vaguely remembered the previous thread, but had forgotten why it was called Thomasson.

"The term Thomasson comes from the professional baseball player Gary Thomasson, who was signed by the Yomiuri Giants for a record-breaking sum of money, and spent his final two seasons with the team (1981–1982) coming close to setting the league strikeout record before being benched. [His] useless position on the team [was thus viewed] as a fitting analogy for 'an object, part of a building, that was maintained in good condition, but with no purpose, to the point of becoming a work of art.'"

haha!! wow. that is so mean. (I love it.)

EDIT: As lovecrafty just made clear, I could have also read the article linked above... :)
posted by bigendian at 8:08 PM on September 27 [7 favorites]


Most of these need the sign I came up with long ago that says:
"YOU CAN'T GET HERE FROM THERE"
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:14 PM on September 27 [2 favorites]




this is where they live

why would you expose them

they dont forgive or forget

be careful
posted by Foci for Analysis at 9:13 PM on September 27 [6 favorites]


Thomassimandias!

Reminds me of the little spiral stairs I remember seeing in the Tower of London, that led to what had once been doorways but had long been bricked and plastered over.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:15 PM on September 27 [3 favorites]




stairs in the woods
posted by mwhybark at 11:27 PM on September 27 [2 favorites]


Ironically perhaps, Gary Thomasson wasn't useless for the Yomiuri Giants. He may not have been worth the money they paid for him, but he had a .261 .317 .468 slash line in 1981, his first season for the Giants, which isn't bad at all. It's the aesthetics of striking out that creates the view his contributions that year were less than they were.

Late in 1981 Thomasson suffered a knee injury before setting the strikeout record and played poorly for the Giants, when he played at all, in 1982. Which is rather fitting since it wasn't lack of utility that saw him benched, but lack of function. So maybe it isn't that ironic a name after all.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:35 PM on September 27 [3 favorites]


I first came across Thomasson as an art term when it was used in last year's magical girl/lesbians in wonderland anime series Flip Flappers, where it was used to refer to the devices that supposedly transported the girls to other world, but which were in fact, useless.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:43 PM on September 27 [5 favorites]


There's a staircase to nowhere beside a creek near me that fascinates my kids, it's not a total mystery though, I think it used to be part of a quarry. There was also one in my high school that went up into a ceiling in the top floor corridor, the little triangle of space it made was a nice place to hide out from teachers (so we thought, they knew what was going on). Legend has it that staircase used to go to a rooftop basketball court that was sealed off following a series of uh... mishaps. Not sure I trust the veracity of that teenage urban legend, there were hoops and a fence visible from the ground though.
posted by threecheesetrees at 11:49 PM on September 27 [1 favorite]


I don’t know about you, but I feel like I just found a trapdoor to another secret level in the game of life.

QFT
posted by chavenet at 1:58 AM on September 28 [2 favorites]


Oh Japan. You get me every time.
posted by sconbie at 2:20 AM on September 28 [2 favorites]


I see loads of doors to nowhere around London (where any non-recent building has probably been used for half a dozen different things), but I assumed they were all entrances to Hell.
posted by doop at 2:23 AM on September 28 [2 favorites]




I've worked in theaters for years: mostly built-for-movies theaters, but also a few old places converted decades ago from live stage theaters. Generally, all the old converted places had doors high above the floor, like 2nd- or 3rd-floor height. From the stage itself, they looked like these abandoned/forgotten artifacts; from the other side, they were obviously purpose-built to provide access for anything from rigging and lights to balcony scenes. (The place I currently work at, opened in late 2003, has doors on either side at the 3rd floor level; they're hard to see from inside the theater and look totally useless; from the outside, you can walk right down a hallway to them for easy access to some high-mounted wall lights.)
posted by easily confused at 5:20 AM on September 28 [2 favorites]


Those Minecraft stair blocks can be tricky to place.
posted by carter at 5:23 AM on September 28 [4 favorites]


The graceful archway on the river side of Somerset House was originally a watergate that let boats from the Thames sail right inside the building: then Bazalgette slapped the Embankment right in front of it.
posted by Segundus at 5:42 AM on September 28 [1 favorite]


I am such a fool for this kind of thing. I was once half sold on an unsuitable apartment because it still had a wall-mounted fiddleback phone.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:38 AM on September 28 [2 favorites]


I have just realized that there are several Thomassons within a couple of miles of downtown Grand Rapids. I feel a photography project looming.
posted by JohnFromGR at 6:44 AM on September 28 [1 favorite]


That noise you hear is me rolling around in this thread, squeaking happily. *favourites every comment in here*
posted by daisyk at 6:53 AM on September 28 [1 favorite]


Everyone has heard the 99% Invisible episode that's all about these, right?
posted by trackofalljades at 7:01 AM on September 28 [1 favorite]


Some minutes away from here there's this viaduct. It's not exactly in the middle of nowhere, but that area does not even have remotely enough traffic to need a 4 lane viaduct, and while to the north it has a small avenue it could connect to, to the south it has nothing but narrow 2-way streets for miles. I'm sure it's being well maintained, because it overpasses the beltway connecting the northern suburbs and the coast to the interior of the country.

It certainly wasn't "useless", because someone got paid to build it.
posted by lmfsilva at 7:30 AM on September 28 [1 favorite]


threecheesetrees: "There's a staircase to nowhere beside a creek near me that fascinates my kids,"

Don't let your kids near those stairs!
posted by Grither at 7:41 AM on September 28 [2 favorites]


From the stage itself, they looked like these abandoned/forgotten artifacts; from the other side, they were obviously purpose-built to provide access for anything from rigging and lights to balcony scenes.

Oh! This explains the one I've seen on E. 116th St. It's a church now, but it must have been a theater once. Makes perfect sense. And yes! The Regent Theater (unfortunately the images don't show the side with the mysterious unconnected staircase, but you can maneuver to see it on Google street view from this link). I just learned something about my own neighborhood. Thanks!
posted by praemunire at 10:30 AM on September 28


I am such a fool for this kind of thing. I was once half sold on an unsuitable apartment because it still had a wall-mounted fiddleback phone.

I recently rented an apartment with one of these or similar (nonfunctioning, of course). It gave me such inexplicable pleasure.
posted by praemunire at 10:39 AM on September 28


I don’t know about you, but I feel like I just found a trapdoor to another secret level in the game of life.

Myst IRL?
posted by infini at 12:07 PM on September 28 [1 favorite]


In old Europe, there are many short staircases with three or four steps, sometimes sideways on the outer wall of a building and sometimes free-standing, leading nowhere. They are not useless; they are mounting blocks for getting onto a horse.
posted by Hogshead at 4:38 PM on September 28 [4 favorites]


The northern part of Santa Monica sits on bluffs overlooking the ocean. The California Incline is stretch of road that connects the bluffs to PCH down below. A few years ago I stumbled across this thread on City-Data, in which a local asks about a small door in the bluffs. After a few pages of non-answers he decides to write the city and gets back a history lesson and photos of the doors, which were originally part of a drainage syatem. The doors remained but were cemented shut. I actually live in this area but am never at the right vantage point to see the door myself. I don't know if they survived the major retrofitting of a few years ago.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:18 PM on September 28


St. Paul's skyway to nowhere (mentioned in the previous post) has been removed.
posted by fedward at 6:41 PM on September 28


"The term Thomasson comes from the professional baseball player Gary Thomasson, who was signed by the Yomiuri Giants for a record-breaking sum of money, and spent his final two seasons with the team (1981–1982) coming close to setting the league strikeout record before being benched. [His] useless position on the team [was thus viewed] as a fitting analogy for 'an object, part of a building, that was maintained in good condition, but with no purpose, to the point of becoming a work of art.'"

What? All that, and no one mentioned that Thomasson's nickname in Japan was "The Electric Fan"? Kids these days have no sense of history.

(Why yes, I have been carrying that fact around for 35 years since I read it in the Whole Earth Catalog.)
posted by sneebler at 1:17 PM on September 30


sneebler, that nickname would be much more badass in Korea...
posted by Grither at 10:57 AM on October 3


« Older Koko the gorilla has pet kittens   |   Hugh Hefner 1926-2017 Newer »


You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.