"52" Week 15 - Greystone Demolition
If you read my blog post from earlier this month, you'll know that a fantastic old building is being knocked down, and I'm pissed off about it. This week, I've decided to document what I could, from a distance, of what's left of Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital (Kirkbride Building). In all likelihood, more has come down since I took these shots on Sunday.
Rather than bending over backwards trying to get the perfect perspective and composition, I did what I could to document the building from as many angles as I had available to me. Good framing took more of a back seat to covering the nooks and crannies of the building's innards, now exposed to daylight for the first time in decades (maybe even a century). On a slightly happier note, I did this with the phenomenal Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 lens, a recent acquisition (and the subject of an upcoming review). While just a pinch soft at its maximum aperture, it's a top performer in all regards. Detail, in this case, was important; most of these shots were taken at a stopped-down aperture of f7.1 or smaller.
The smell of must and concrete wafted by every few minutes as the wind whistled through the canyons of rubble and open hallways. The building's vast network of rooms was splayed open like a sloppy cross-section, openly displaying eons of plumbing, architecture, wiring and meticulous brickwork.
If anything, seeing Greystone like this only served to bolster my fascination with old, derelict buildings. These structures stand as unplanned museums; they offer unspoken history by way of exposed pipe, ornate stonework, discarded possessions, and endless details if you're willing to look hard enough.
Currently, there are (uncited) reports that the central Administration section of the building is being kept standing, albeit temporarily thanks to a judge's ruling. This was pure word-of-mouth from another bystander who was taking photos from the outside of the building, as I was. In all likelihood, only a portion of the building's front facade will be saved.
I like to force myself towards optimism; it's nice that I was able to take a few shots, rudimentary as they may be, of the Kirkbride building before it's gone. It's also nice that the demolition of Greystone has inspired me to find other places like it, so that I can preserve them through imagery. Perhaps for me, then, this building isn't dying in vain.