Scranton Lace Company - First Visit
I always thought my first visit to Scranton, Pennsylvania would be for a tour of locations referenced in The Office. I'd grab a slice of pizza at Alfredo's Pizza Cafe, or maybe a pint of Lionshead at Poor Richard's Pub. Instead, I found myself walking straight into the slowly decaying remains of the Scranton Lace Company complex, outfitted with a respirator, Timberland boots (both of which ended up being severely uncomfortable), and camera gear.
In case you think this story ends with a tense, Metal Gear Solid-eqsue evasion of security or police, you think wrong. Thanks to Matt at Abandoned America, quite a few people - myself included - signed a liability waiver, paid a reasonable price, and were given (nearly) free reign of the building for five hours.
You can find out more about this place here, but essentially, the Scranton Lace Company operated as a successful textile manufacturing plant for, say, a century or so before these businesses largely migrated away from America. In 2002, the fifty-odd remaining employees were told to go home mid-shift. And that was that for the Scranton Lace Company.
Like many other deteriorating factories and hospitals, it was easy to get lost in the labyrinth that makes up three separate buildings connected by raised walkways. Early on, that was my intention -- since I had the luxury of not being a trespasser for five hours, I decided to wander aimlessly between the structures. Most of the floors are intact, if not a little tenuous and sunken. Curiosity got the better of me when I came across a dark, relatively concealed staircase which bears a strong resemblance to the one featured in the free horror game SCP-087. Rankled groans from the aging metal stairs, however, sent me scrambling back up before I could find out what was at the bottom. See the 11 minute mark in the video below.
Among the coolest things to see in old buildings like this are the trinkets and relics from decades gone by that have remained largely untouched. If you choose to watch the 20-minute walkthrough video below (around 6 minutes and 30 seconds in), you'll see as I pick up a piece of paper from 1956 that looks as if it could've been printed yesterday.
For those wondering about the gear I used, I brought along the Nikon D750 with a superwide-zoom lens (plus an 85mm that I didn't end up using). I used my GoPro Hero 4 to capture the below video, which was paired with a Qudos Action Light. The incredible dynamic range of the RAW files from the D750 is more than enough to bring out deep shadow and highlight detail for the HDR images in this set.
Like most fun events, the time I had in the Scranton Lace Company building came and went too quickly. While there are hopes that this complex will be renovated to become a condominium complex, the possibility of demolition looms large. In either case, I sincerely hope this building will be opened one more time in its current condition; now that I'm roughly familiar with its layout, there must be hundreds of photo ops left waiting to be discovered.
I'll skip that noisy staircase though. Unless someone wants to come with me...