Abandoned In Wallington NJ
Originally written for my other site – Interesting Asides, but felt it belonged here too. . .
Has been awhile and pondering what I want to write. I do want to write pieces to follow up on and continue my ramblings about epistemology, the subject and subjectivity, and also political parties in the US. Tonight, however, it is something entirely different.
It started as a simple visit to my in-laws in Garfield this afternoon. Like any trip to my in-laws we hit the various Polish delis and stores along River Road. Simply necessary to get some good Kielbasa, Napoleons, vegetable salad and so forth to bring home. And of course some Wedel Chocolate too!
Along the way, however, right next to one of the delis in fact, was this building, which just turned my head. A now abandoned, but still visible, still standing – an old early-twentieth century factory. With several wings. All of it brick, basically two stories high.. The front facade running the length of Midland Avenue was the longest. Perhaps a football field in length? Various wings angled behind that front section on each side. The windows had since been boarded up. The roofs were gone. It was just the walls, once red now reddish-brown brick.
The one section where the roof survived had that crowning clerestory allowing natural light into that wing. It is only appropriate that at the height of these buildings, these engines of the industrial economy they represented and supported, that they had these clerestories. You see them routinely in such buildings. I imagine they allowed some light and perhaps also allowed the heat and the smells and God knows what else to escape. Regardless it was appropriate in some way that such factories lift and borrow these architectural devices originally found in churches and cathedrals.
Functional benefits I am sure providing light and allowing heat to escape. Such buildings were not built with symbols in mind. Who knows, maybe the architect appreciated such history, but the factory owner probably would not see the cultural relationship between a cathedral and his factory.The one section where the roof survived had that crowning clerestory allowing natural light into that wing. It is only appropriate that at the height of these buildings, these engines of the industrial economy they represented and supported, that they had these clerestories. You see them routinely in such buildings. I imagine they allowed some light and perhaps also allowed the heat and the smells and God knows what else to escape. Regardless it was appropriate in some way that such factories lift and borrow these architectural devices originally found in churches and cathedrals.
For me it is exactly that fact that grabbed me. Such buildings, such factories are what drove this country and this region. Despite all the issues we have with industry it still is how this country established itself in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Certainly the north-east from the turn of the century till the seventies.
That is why I see the clerestory as an appropriate piece to crown the factory and to have it descend from the Christian cathedral. Both the cathedral and the factory were organizing principles for civilizations and for communities. Both focus on place and leaves me wondering what is the organizing principle for today. Where is our place?
I digress. The symbolism of the clerestory is but one piece of this story. The other piece is that we abandoned this building. It appears from the web it was not that long ago but we abandoned it. From Google Earth, it looks like it was not too long ago that the building and all were in use. Garfield Molding at 10 Midland Avenue in Garfield is still listed as a functioning business on the web. One site claimed a current annual revenue of several million – do not believe everything you read on the web! The address is not listed on any EPA Superfund list or anything. It does appear to have needed to remove an oil tank back in 1988. Today, however, it is just gated, concealed and fenced, with its roofs now gone, and with a realtor’s sign slapped on it.
What is it like to just walk away? What is required for the owners to close such a facility and allow it to just collapse? What is it like for the town and the neighbors to not take interest in what has happened there. I am assuming there was little or no interest. At least none that I could find in my very quick search on the web regarding 10 Midland Avenue, Garfield NJ.
Last thoughts on this is to consider two things that came out of such abandonments. The first is simple. We abandoned industry, and with that the monies that came out of it. Industry might have been dirty but it paid and this is probably one reason we care not for the husk of such a building. It perhaps poisoned and ultimately just faded or abandoned us.
The second, as we are talking Bergen County and the Passaic River is the Capital Theater. It was one of the best venues for Rock and Roll in that area, located in the city of Passaic. That venue and the music that was played there thrived in the seventies and eighties as the factories closed. Kind of like Birmingham and Black Sabbath or closer to home Springsteen and Asbury Park or Freehold. Sadly, the Capitol Theater is long gone. Demolished to make way for a strip mall I believe. Regardless, there is a relation between our industrial past and rock.