sharon springs

This is the main corridor at the Lower Bath House, one of the oldest remaining structures in the semi-abandoned resort town of Sharon Springs.  Dating to roughly 1876, this building is holding up relatively well despite years of abandonment - though many of the individual rooms have major collapses in the walls.

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Of all the abandoned hotels in the former resort town of Sharon Springs, the Hotel Empire is the least vandalized.  This might seem surprising, being that it’s been abandoned longer than most - the last room was rented out in 1993.  But this lovely building, once a bustling resort hotel that catered to Brooklyn’s Ashkenazi Jewry, is smack in the middle of a residential neighborhood, surrounded on four sides by houses that are still occupied.  As such, it is not an easy target for the spraypaint-and-sledgehammer crowd, and has remained virtually untouched in 21 years.  On the top floor, this Du Mont combination radio/television set (roughly 1940s vintage) remains remarkably intact, and surprisingly has not been looted - a testament to the difficulty of sneaking into this hotel, and to the wonderful treasures one is likely to find when a location is difficult to access.

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While the Hotel Columbia has been abandoned for over a decade, one would hardly know this to look at it - many rooms look more or less like this, somewhat disheveled, but hardly in the state of advanced decay that most of the buildings I study are.  Still, as can be inferred from the red carpeting and the bathroom design pictured here, it has been much longer than a decade since anything was done to update the decor… Sadly, while the Columbia is certainly in salvageable condition, the Korean investment conglomerate that owns it wants it as a tax shelter and nothing more - there are currently no plans to save the building, and soon enough, water damage will make rehabilitation prohibitively expensive.

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A landscape view of the lobby of the Imperial Baths in Sharon Springs, NY.  The enormous spa complex offered a wide range of services to the Ashkenazi Jewish visitors to the town, of course segregated by sex.  The lobby features 20’ ceilings crowned by a giant green skylight; in the not-too-distant past, I shot a model in this lobby.  Sadly, by that point the cast iron fountain from which visitors could drink the distinctive mineral water the town was known for was removed.

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Play it Again, Sam - Hotel Empire lobby, 2012.  Shortly before sunset, with the sun ablaze in a brilliant pink, I wandered down the stairs of the Hotel Empire, the least-vandalized and most-intact of the abandoned hotels in Sharon Springs.  The dingy old piano, topped by an ancient AM/FM radio and accompanied by a chair in lieu of its missing bench, had taken on a lovely glow in the evening sun.  Oddly, the next time I saw it some two years later, someone had pinched the radio.

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The corridors of the Hotel Columbia, a once-thriving dwelling in the once-thriving resort community of Sharon Springs, are almost claustrophobic in their design.  It almost feels as if the architect was trying to squeeze as much space into the rooms as possible, with little regard for the halls.  Like the Hotel Adler, the Columbia gives off a vibe reminiscent of the near-vacant hotel in Kubrick’s version of “The Shining”; long corridors stretch throughout the C-shaped building, and the hotel’s lounge has a slightly bizarre, aged feel to it.  The building is well insulated against sound from the outside, and from time to time it’s easy enough to get spooked by the footsteps of a traveling companion down the corridor or on the floor above.

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