Photographs of Urban Ruins

I’ve always been fascinated by abandoned buildings and places. There’s something so haunting about them, a history you feel in your bones, a feeling both creepy and melancholy and deeply intriguing at the same time. It’s fascinating to see the way our man-made structures decay and how nature reclaims our handiwork.

I’m certainly not the only one who feels a pull to these places, and there’s a group of urban explorers out there who seek out abandoned buildings and forgotten places. Exploring these buildings can be both illegal and dangerous, which of course makes it a highly attractive endeavor for the risk-seeking adventurer with an interest in history.

Tom Kirsch is one of these adventurers and also a talented photographer who captures old schools, mental hospitals, jails, and other urban ruins in amazingly rich and evocative photos. Check out his site to see these pictures along with interesting historical tidbits about the places he visits. The website is awesome; you can lose some serious time there.

Photos ©

Check out Opacity.

Hat tip to Gabriel S. for this link.



{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave Johnson March 17, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Interesting stuff, here’s a similar photography project of abandoned buildings of Ireland;
It’s incredible how quickly functioning, lively buildings fall to ruins.

Doug March 17, 2011 at 3:09 pm
Davie March 17, 2011 at 3:18 pm

There’s some really amazing stuff there. It seems many cities have an astounding history hidden just out of sight.

For any manly fellows interested in urban exploration, I’d recommend the book Access All Areas. It offers all sorts of tips for traversing abandoned structures and hard-to-reach areas, and how to stay on the near side of the law while doing it. It’s good stuff.

Wesley March 17, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Maybe it’s just the capitalist in me, but dang, look at all that metal!! It’s all just sitting there rusting, when it could be broken down for the recycling. The balusters on that stairway look good and solid, and could definitely be resold if they break down into small sections (highly likely).

I guess the owners have moved on to more profitable ventures in greener pastures.

Sam March 17, 2011 at 9:42 pm

One pass time my college chums and I enjoyed was random jaunts for urban exploration. We went to school in a very old New England town, and one of the best things we discovered was that the observation deck for the falls in downtown was built over an abandoned watermill. By dropping down over the side of the deck and onto a grassy area you could slip through a window and explore the dusty corridors. In the dark of night it was a very Indiana Jones experience!

Ross March 17, 2011 at 10:50 pm

This site is a must… Beautiful photos, vanishing places from my childhood.

Gabriel March 18, 2011 at 1:59 am

Glad you dug it, Brett! The real thanks goes to my lovely girlfriend for finding his work and showing it to me though. Awesome stuff.

Pretty impressive it appears to be a whole photography niche. Thanks for sharing your own links other posters.

Joe J March 18, 2011 at 11:42 am

Thanks for sharing. I too find old, abandoned urban and industrial buildings very melancholy, but beautiful. Perhaps it’s from growing up in the “Rust Belt” and knowing the impact behind the ruins or from exploring the old, abandoned psychiatric hospital with my friend’s older brothter when I was a kid.

Romey March 20, 2011 at 12:15 pm is another good site for “ruin porn” as some are calling it these days. Not only does this site show current pictures of the buildings, but many pictures of their heyday. I’m trying to find a site that has a gallery of stitched pictures, half of today, half from the good ole days, it’s quite eerie.

banneker77 April 7, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Detroit has a LOT of them; it’s really sad that we let these go downhill; nothing left but to be torn down and made into farmland

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