Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Ruin Porn at Fort Ord, California

As a Detroit lover I'm all too familiar with ruin porn. If you're not acquainted, it's a form of photography that shows neglected and abandoned structures that have become our modern ruins. Detroit is ground zero for ruin porn. In fact if you google the phrase "ruin porn", you'll get lots of links to these architectural gems in the city that have fallen into decay.

On our recent trip to California I didn't expect we'd find modern ruins. When we were planning our trip and decided to drive down the Pacific Coast Highway, I knew I wanted to stop in Monterey. In the late 60's my dad was stationed at Fort Ord, California and lived there.  It seemed like the perfect place to stop on our way down the coast. 

After exploring downtown Monterey and its Fisherman's Wharf we decided to drive to Fort Ord, just a few miles away from where we were staying downtown.  Fort Ord closed in 1994, and I wasn't sure exactly what we'd find.  When we arrived that late afternoon I found myself astonished by what was left.  When it was an active post it comprised 28,000 acres. Now portions of the base have been redeveloped by California State University, Monterey Bay. There is a housing development, and right between abandoned structures is a giant shopping center with a Target.


An abandoned church with the shopping center in the background.




We pulled onto a street along an abandoned row of barracks. When I got out of the car it was so quiet, and the sun was nearly setting along the Santa Lucia Mountains. I began snapping photos of the abandoned barracks, and had to stop to gather my emotions.

I started thinking about my dad as a young man from a small town who had never really been anywhere. I imagined him being young and so full of energy and the promise of an adult life coming to live in a place as beautiful as Monterey. My heart was pounding, and my throat was filled with a lump of tears.





As we drove along the post there were probably hundreds of unsecured abandoned buildings. There were missing doors, and if i were so inclined I could've just walked into any of them.  We drove around Fort Ord for about an hour, oscillating between abandoned structures and the buildings remodeled by the university. 




Visiting Fort Ord was a surprisingly poignant experience as I found myself wondering where my dad had worked and spent time as a young Army solder. There is obviously more development on its way on the post, and I'm not sure how long the abandoned buildings will remain. But for a quiet hour in the late afternoon sun I could imagine Fort Ord and my dad as they both were in the late 60s - full of promise and patriotism and life.

5 comments:

  1. Very nice photos and story. I have been wanting to photograph Fort Ord myself..think I better hurry up and do it!

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    1. Thank you! It's haunting, and it probably won't exist much longer. Go do it!

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  2. I called this home in between 1976 and 1979. Brings back memories.

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