14 x 16 inches
Sometimes I feel like a time traveler visiting the past and returning with a piece of endangered history.
I’ve been trying to bring some of the past back into the present for over forty years, ever since rowing out to then-abandoned Ellis Island in 1974 when I was a senior in high school to make a 16mm film with my friend Steve Siegel. Exploring New York’s ruins was the closest thing to the frontier, and at the time New York had a lot of them.
I’ve since photographed dozens of abandoned places around the world, returning to many to capture the changes. Many, like Greystone Park Hospital, have since been demolished; some, like Ellis Island and the High Line, have been restored, and some, like the S.S. United States and the New York State Pavilion, are now in jeopardy.
It’s difficult to gain official access to these sites – liability concerns usually overrides and historic interest. But I’m inspired by one of Woody Guthrie’s verses for “This Land Is Your Land” that’s less well known:
As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.