Posts Tagged ‘nj’

Two of NJ’s oldest and largest psychiatric facilities slated for demolition

A few weeks ago the state announced that it was seeking bids to demolish the main Kirkbride building that was the primary building at Greystone. A number of old buildings have already been torn down and now the state intends to finish the job. This week similar plans were announced for Marlboro. Marlboros demise was actually announced 2 years ago but numerous studies had to be done before any actual demolition could take place. The facility opened in 1931 and closed in 1998 though alcohol rehab treatment is still done in a handful of buildings if I recall correctly. Now abandoned for 15 years the buildings have deteriorated and natural decay mainly from weather and water damage has let asbestos contaminate the halls. I visited there myself about 7 years ago but I would likely not visit today if given the chance. Though the buildings may structurally be sound, certain areas have weak floors and that, coupled with the asbestos would far outweigh any benefits of exploration. It is estimated that it will cost 75M to demolish the buildings safely, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the cost were closer to 100M. I say that because the state estimates restoring the Kirkbridge building at Greystone would cost well in excess of $100M. The The question then becomes what to do with the sprawling estate, and a park seems a likely choice given the emphasis on Green Acres preservation. Anything would be better than to sell it off and make more subdivisions.

Head 2 Head on 295

If you drive on 295, as you approach exit 65B you will see a large piece of public art called Head 2 Head, created by artist John Martini. The two giant heads weigh a combined 45 tons and are part of a project by the Grounds For Sculpture, a local park featuring large works of art. The Sculpture On The Way (SOTW) program is meant to be a visual path that leads visitors to the Grounds for Sculpture. By displaying art publicly it is hoped that it was will encourage local residents and business owners to display art publicly on their own, unaffiliated with the program itself.

You can read more about the SOTW program, featuring descriptions and locations of other pieces here. You can read more about Head 2 Head here

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1937 Yellowstone Park Bus

1937 Yellowstone Park Bus

I saw this car in Readington, NJ, off to the side of Route 22. I was headed south, not doing anything but driving along, when I saw this 4 row open air … Frankencar. I couldn’t think of another word to describe it. It looked like some really old car had been stretched and customized into something totally new.

Turns out, it wasn’t new at all. It was in fact, very old. The car is owned by the Tewksbury Balloon company and it is used as their chase vehicle. When you fly in a hot air balloon, you gain lift through the use of hot air jets, but despite that you are still at the mercy of the wind. The pilot has to watch the winds very carefully and at the same time be watching the terrain for suitable landing spots. Most of the time, balloon pilots set down in a large open space such as a baseball field, parking lot or a farm. On rare occasions it’s someones backyard. A chase vehicle follows on the ground and when the balloon lands they pick up the pilot and passengers. The basket goes on or in the vehicle along with the balloon itself.

This chase vehicle is a 1937 White Model 614 Yellowstone Tour bus. Yellowstone National Park was the first National Park established in the United States by President Grant on March 1, 1872. Covering over 3,400 square miles, the Park was a popular destination for Americans eager to explore thanks to the recent introduction of the automobile. As visitor levels soared, increasing traffic volumes created problems for Park management so in 1917, multi-passenger bus tours were introduced. The model pictured above was first introduced in 1931. These 14-passenger units featured glass side windows and an opening top cover so that guests could stand up to enjoy the scenery. These buses also had a more powerful 75hp engine than their predecessors, to facilitate climbing the mountain passes, and new hydraulic brakes provided increased safety.

Many of the Yellowstone buses are prized by collectors and are often used in tourism related businesses. More information on the history and models of Yellowstone buses can be found at Geyser Bob’s detailed website here.

The Tewksbury Balloon company flies passengers over the hills of northern and central NJ out of White House Station, so if you fly with them you can ride in their Yellowstone bus on trip back to their launch site. There are lots of pictures on their facebook page.

You can also see pics of another restored 1937 yellowstone bus here

Abandoned on the Mullica River

I recently came across this non descript trio of houses on the banks of Mullica River. In Lower Bank these houses have sat for I am guessing two decades or more, judging by debris I found in the building. The buildings are in really bad shape but have been left alone by people. I saw no signs of vandalism or destruction, not even evidence of kids drinking and smoking pot. All I saw the decay of time. Built on sand, literally on the sand with no foundation, these houses built yards from the Mullica River were destined to meet a fate like this.

Abandoned in the middle of Route 46

For a decade I’ve driven past this abandoned house that sits in the middle between the east and west bound sides of Route 46 in Warren County. I have always wondering who would build a home in the median between the sides of a busy highway. I don’t know how long it has been abandoned, I noticed it around 2001 on a trip to the Delaware Water Gap. Every time I would drive out that way I would either forget or it would be too late in the day and too dark or there would be police there. it seems the local PD likes to hang out there in the grass and either do speed traps or just chit chat with each other. it turns out there is nothing special about it. just another abandoned structure, ignored every day by thousands of drivers who probably never give it a second thought.

VIdeo of a UFO in Bergen County last night

its definitely a UFO because its currently unidentified. Whether it is little green men is another issue

Jim Gary’s car parts dinosaurs moved to Florida museum

In 2004, I learned that a local NJ artist was building full sized dinosaurs out of car parts, many of which could be seen outside his Monmouth County home. Jim Gary was a self taught artist who worked in various mediums but mostly made sculptures out of metal. He was most famous for his sculptures of dinosaurs. He made them out of automotive parts he found in junkyards with painstaking attention to detail. Anyone familiar with cars can almost instantly recognize the calipers from a brake set that make up a foot or the leaf springs that make up the rib cage. Likewise nearly every one of his dinosaurs is instantly recognizable as the specific type of dinosaur it is meant to be, whether it was a T-Rex, a triceratops or a velociratpor. This is because he would research the dinosaurs extensively to make sure he got the number of vertebrae and ribs correct.

One day I took a drive and showed up unannounced at his home. I had no intention of bothering the artist, I hoped to simply take a few pictures from the road, something I imagined the artist would be accustomed to. Luckily, Jim Gary saw me, and offered me access to his property to take as many pictures as I liked. He had no time to speak to me then, but he said he would be happy to do so at another time. Unfortunately getting back to him was something I never did; the next year he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and passed away. I posted the pictures on this site along with a brief write up about the artist and his dinosaurs. Over the next few years I gave permission to the curators of his estate permission to use some of those pictures at various exhibits. Since that time, many people searching for information about Jim Gary have found my blog entry and left kind words about the man they knew, or only knew of but wish they had met.

I was contacted by Gary’s estate in August, 2011 and asked if I would come and document the dinosaurs one last time before they were moved to the Tallahassee Museum in Florida (where they will remain for another ten years or so). I was more then happy to do this and you can see those pictures here on flickr.

Jim Gary was close friends with the Berg family for several decades. They met when the Bergs bought some of his art, and their son would sometimes help Jim create new dinosaurs. Later, as Jim’s work became famous and would travel in art shows, the Berg family would help Jim disassemble, transport and reassemble the pieces for display. After Jim’s passing, the pieces that were outside his home were kept at the Berg home in Colt’s Neck. As the pieces were being loaded into the 18 wheeler bound for Florida, local residents realized that the dinosaurs that had been a part of their quiet neighborhood would no longer be there. Many expressed disappointment at the move but understood that the art deserved a chance for the greater public to better appreciate them.

I arrived early that morning to document the pieces before dis-assembly. They were much as I remembered them, if not a bit more weathered. Life sized, iconic and a cool factor of 11. I took a bunch of pictures and before I knew it heads and tails were off in preparation for loading the following day. When I returned again, a giant fork lift had arrived to lift the two ton dinosaurs from the lawn into the backs of two tractor trailers. Straps were strung under ribs and around legs. They were carefully moved across the lawn and into the street, then hoisted to the correct height to be carefully laid inside the truck.

You can’t conceive how difficult it was to safely move these pieces of art. Despite being made of welded metal they could still suffer stress fractures or even snap if they were to impact the ground or the sides of the trucks. Furthermore, they had to be balanced safely for the ride to the truck, but be level enough to be slid inside. The largest piece only had a 6 inch clearance of the truck’s ceiling. At the end of all the pictures is a video in 3 parts showing hard how the biggest piece was to load.

Two years later, the majority of the pieces sit in the Tallahassee Museum – BUT – two other pieces are now at Liberty Science Center, on exhibit until the end of September. If you get the chance, I strongly urge you to visit these gigantic art pieces. They are awe inspiring and dramatic, and represent everything that art should be.

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All of the pics on Flickr, a LOT MORE

Interview with jeremy about Jim Gary

Interview with Arlene Berg