Rot in Peace: Putting old buildings and settlements to rest

Essay-Slide show by Caitlin DeSilvey in Slate:

6_warrencentertreevergaraLetting man-made structures decay to the point of disappearance is not an idea with a lot of popular or professional support, at least in America. In the mid-1990s, however, sociologist and photographer Camilo José Vergara proposed a “ruins park” for the mostly empty urban core of Detroit. In his “American Acropolis,” the vacant buildings would become habitat for peregrine falcons and intrepid plants. The prairie would reseed the city streets. People would gather to witness a “memorial to a disappearing urban civilization.” Detroit citizens did not welcome the proposal. It mattered little to them that Vergara found redemption and beauty, as well as regret, in their husk of a city.

In this slide, Vergara’s photo of the derelict reading room of the Camden Free Library in New Jersey, a thicket of saplings reaches toward a tattered ceiling’s filtered light.

More here.