Hidden in Suburbia 2011 (Part Four): Industry
June 2, 2011 10 Comments
Note: This post and photo slideshow come with a soundtrack today. Click here, with your speakers turned up, to have the mood properly set by the wonderful King Crimson, and their evocative “Industry.”
One of the most impressive things, for me, about riding and hiking into woods around my home is the ability to stand in, on, or near some truly historic industrial artifacts.
The most obvious of these (well, relatively speaking, anyway) are probably the abandoned locks of the Erie and Champlain canals that stand, completely landlocked, throughout Cohoes and Watervliet. When I worked at RPI, I used to take students to look at these crumbling relics, while pointing out to them that these locks and the tiny canals connecting them were once considered to be the most significant industrial accomplishments on the North American continent.
Bodies to ashes to dirt to dust. Cities to ruins to iron to rust. I think it’s good for a prospective engineer to have a sense of humility, and if that won’t do it, nothing will.
Less famously, the lowlands on the west bank of the Hudson River between Albany and Troy (once West Troy, now mostly Watervliet and Menands, with a little sliver of Colonie between them) were home to formidable steel mills and armories. The Watervliet Arsenal and Albany Steel survive as local manufacturing centers to this day, while many other large neighboring businesses (including the Ludlum Steel Company, once headed by Edwin Corning, father of legendary Albany mayor, Erastus Corning 2nd) eventually closed their doors and began the long, slow process of returning their constituent elements to the ground beneath them.
Today’s Hidden in Suburbia post centers on this crumbling post-industrial wasteland. These spaces are so alien to our suburban sensibilities, and yet they are so very close to us, if we’re willing to look into the darker spaces behind our developments and shopping centers. It’s humbling and awe-inspiring to visit them. As always, click on the photo below for the photo essay with accompanying narrative support, or click here for the wordless slide-show version. I’d recommend starting the slide show at about the 2:00 minute mark of the King Crimson song for maximum evocative effect.