Archive for January, 2015

Six Flags – New Orleans

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As of recently, my exploring group and I embarked on a journey of epic proportions… this is the story I’ve been promising you. January 15th, after a long day of work, we gather our things and head out at approximately 8pm, only to enjoy a 17 hour drive ahead of us. Coming from northern Ohio, we make our way south while also making our abandoned explore pit stops in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. Finally, we arrive at our destination in beautiful New Orleans, Louisiana at roughly 11am on January 16th, where the weather was 20+ greater than our northern air… what a blessing! Due to Hurricane Katrina, the city of New Orleans became a playground for urban explorers such as ourselves, but we did NOT drive 17 hours just to explore water damaged houses and washed out businesses, our goal for this trip was to visit abandoned Six Flags, New Orleans (SFNO.) Upon our arrival, our tired eyes and shot nerves gain a boost of adrenaline as our car is smashed by a pick up truck, luckily our car was still driveable, we then set out to scout the park for POE’s. I swear we circled the park a dozen times before we came up with a plan (which I will take to my grave.)

3:30 in the morning, our phones are blaring trying to wake us before we lose our chance. Everything went so fast.. before we knew it, its 4:30 in the morning and we’re en-route to the park. After a cold and careful walk to our POE, there we were, standing inside of an abandoned roller-coaster. It all became surreal when our paths were paved with light from not only the stars but light from the film production on the other half of the park… our strategy had to be bullet-proof in order to pull this off. Swift and quiet, we maneuver around the park capturing our footage and photographs, trying to push our exploring boundaries a little further in order to capture things no other visitor was capable of. The sun rose, we got everything we needed and we were on our way out… we turn a corner and there lies a security truck in the distance. Totally unscathed, we make our way out side of the park and make our way to public property where all was well now. Walking back to our car, a security car spots us walking with tripods, stabilizers, flashlights, cameras, etc.. and they waste no time paging the rest of the security squad. By the time we make it back to the car, a security car is parked along side us and gets out swiftly upon our approach, greeting us with “I need to talk to you guys.” Our nerves tense a little at the thought of getting caught, however, we were now on public property so anything further would no longer apply to us. He proceeds to say, thinking that we turned around and never went in, “Im glad you guys turned back, not only would you be facing federal trespassing charges, and time in jail.. but we also have wild pigs, alligators and african bee’s in the park.” After explaining to us the dangers of the parks current tenants, he proceeds to go more in depth about the consequences by adding “37 people have been arrested in the last week” and that he “put 2 Canadians in jail” the prior day. Needless to say, this was by far the biggest accomplishment of my urban exploring career, by dodging physical harm and a plate full of legal troubles. DO NOT VISIT THIS PARK. YOU WILL GO TO JAIL.

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Originally opened as “Jazzland” on May 20th 2000, the park became beloved Six Flags on April 12th 2003. The park contained 20 rides, 4 roller-coasters, and 2 water rides, majority of which were severely damaged and ultimately removed. August 21st, 2005: New Orleans weather forecast is already preparing the city/state for what would be one of the most devastating occurrences in our time, SFNO decides to shut their gates and prepare for evacuation… not knowing this would be the time their gates close for good. August 26th, 2005 a category 5 hurricane Katrina would wipe out 1,800+ lives, more than $108 billion dollars in property, and submerge an entire city for weeks. Not only was the hurricane devastating enough, but on top of that.. drainage pumps all over the city stopped working, leaving the population helpless.

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2 weeks after Katrina, Six Flags was STILL submerged in 4-7 feet of water due to the flooding of Lake Pontchartrain, which the park sits so closely to. Little known fact: SFNO was in financial distress for its last few months of operation, so it was going under before it LITERALLY went under.

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Beginning their 75 year lease with the city in July 2006, the lease was “dropped” in 2009 after the assessment of damage Katrina caused came to light.

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Ray Nagin, mayor of New Orleans makes the executive decision to uphold the park to its lease and force re-development, which would force construction to keep SFNO in the same spot that it fell in. Overall value of destruction caused by the hurricane was added up to be around $32.5 million dollars, which left them $24.4 million to pull out of thin air, seeing as how the parks insurance would provide $11.5 million toward the rebuild. Although impossible to gain such wealth magically, park officials reveal their plan to sue insurance providers in 2007 for their remaining $175 million in coverage.

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Talks of redevelopment into a Nickelodeon theme park surface on August 18th, 2009, exactly one month later, the city of New Orleans fines Six Flags $3 million and forces them to vacate their lease. By April 11th, 2010, clean-ups are made to the park and it is now owned by the city… with no clear future in sight.

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2011, proposals to open the park up once more as “Jazzland” fall through once more, meanwhile disregarding proposals to turn the land into a power plant, theme park and/or outlet mall.

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Due to the distance between the land and the tourist attractions such as the French Quarters, Metairie and downtown NOLA, any hopes of re-opening a successful park of any kind were out of the question.

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As of February 6th, 2012, the only hope left for the land would be to build and establish an upscale outlet mall.

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March 6th, 2012, the city of New Orleans gave officials the green light to start construction for the birth of a beautifully designed upscale outlet mall, which would utilize still standing roller coasters by re-vamping them and incorporating them into the design.

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This project was set to cost upwards to $40 million for just the first phase of construction which was more than the $32.5 million needed to fix damage from the hurricane, which led to canceled plans by March of 2013.

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Meanwhile, during all of the debate on what the land should become, the park was being rented out by production companies for an extraordinary film set. From 2011- present, the park has been the host of 5 films including; Killer Joe, Stolen, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Jurassic World (which is what they were filming during our visit.)

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Many of the rides are still intact which makes it all the more eerie for visitors. Seeing how calm the air was while we were there was interesting, then to think it was all underwater a decade ago.

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Here I sit, bragging about my visit, but I am required to make it known that under no circumstances is it safe for anyone to visit illegally. I put my life on the line in order to provide this content for you.

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Lake Pontchartrain, which looks so peaceful, is home to 4 huge alligators. The land past the merry-go-round is brush filled with wild pigs, and if you didn’t know… pigs are ruthless. Finally, not to mention the African bees, being from northern Ohio, I had no clue what this creature was until the security guard explained to us that one sting would kill you. Fun stuff.

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I guess you’d call us professionals, so leave these dangers to us. Im always here to guide explorers in the right direction when it comes to safe places, but this is not one of them.

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Security heavily monitors this park and will not hesitate to stop you. I have a LOT of content for you from this trip that I’m having a hard time sifting through, so bare with me! Click to watch the Southern Saga as it unfolds in an 18 minute highlight video. Until next week, xoxo.

Planet Perish: Southern Saga highlight video

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Planet Perish: Southern Saga highlight video

Days Inn

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As promised, these next few posts from this southern series will be equipped with our personal stories, the buildings backgrounds and everything in between. My group and I specially traveled from Northern Ohio to the dirty south in order to gain this content, so buckle up and enjoy! Downtown New Orleans, Louisiana, a graveyard for once flourishing businesses and homes. Within our first few hours of being in LA, we stumbled upon an abandoned Days Inn Motel, once flooded with guests, now filled with dust and wasps. Thanks to Hurricane Katrina, whom I’ll address more in a later post, this motel was flooded, and left to dry along with majority of the city.

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When you first enter this building, you’re faced with a dilapidated hallway that you can tell once was beautiful, open doors and an “all natural disaster” flooring.

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Abandoned help desk, last saw a tenant about a decade ago.

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Forgotten kitchen, untouched since 2005. Still perfectly place and tiled. Once serving up some southern comfort food, now serving a healthy dose of curiosity for the local explorers.

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Ceiling tiles stacked from floor to ceiling. Floor covered with old box springs and mattresses. A very weird sight, but gold for our exploring group.

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Lazy boy chairs and love seats line the halls, waiting patiently to experience the warmth of human interaction again.

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Floors full of rooms flipped up side down, Katrina tossed and turned the entire building… What was she looking for?!

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More tossing.

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More turning.

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The paint peels from the walls and doors, trying their hardest to find their way out as well.

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The cleaning floor- washers, dryers, sinks and closets left ransacked by the force of mother nature, i must say this was a reality check for sure. Although lucky to have never experienced a hurricane, due to the fact we live in northern Ohio, this definitely hit home. The weather here is gorgeous, and I’m sure this was paradise prior to flooring.

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From atop the building, the skyline paved in lights, palm trees and more abando’s…. This is merely the beginning of this southern saga. Stay tuned for more stories, and our biggest accomplishment yet. Louisiana has been good to us, even with a 15 hour drive, a car crash, narrowly escaping death and escaping federal trespassing charges. We did good, and we hope you stay interested. There will be a video of the trips documentation soon. xoxo

Today’s Local Exploration

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Today was quite the cold one. Our exploration plans fell through so we roamed the city and decided to visit the local abandoned church and Sunday School. Watch the 40 second video to see what it was like. Sorry for the lack of posts, the team and I are packing up for our epic adventure down south. Next weeks post is gonna be the best. Prepare for movie time!

Campbell Post Office

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Campbell city post office, right outside of Youngstown, although not much information was shed.. a beautiful sight. Turning onto this street to re-route our explore plan, we hit a gold mine! Not one, but TWO abandoned bars, an abandoned apartment (we believe) and this abandoned post office. Awesome. Wondering how we were going to get inside, of course… the front door is open. Even though, there is no back story to this building, just look at how strange it is…. everything left behind!

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First entering the building, you’re forced to go either left or right, deterring you from a lonesome information wall.. you are then in the front room of the post office. Sifting through the clutter, you arrive at this “private” door, leading you into the main postal part of the office.

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Behind said door, clutter.. as far as the eye can see… well at least until the back door.

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In the back left hand corner, postal slots left empty, exactly what you’d expect to find here.

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In the back of the building, the back door, still equipped with an exit sign. The doors are chained, but the windows busted. We venture into the back yard of the building, only to find 4 cars… which i have no photos for.

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Inside the building, a forgotten bathroom bears odd gifts for us explorers. A ladder next to the toilet led us up to a weird loft that had a hidden room off of it. No windows. No light fixtures. Such a weird thing.

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And in the basement, forgotten lockers, equipment, cleaning supplies, boiler room. Its as if the city uses this post office as a storage facility now a days.

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Aside from having no information on this building, i still find it pretty awesome how everything was left behind so abruptly. I hope you enjoyed this post, and if you didn’t, stay tuned…. Next weeks post will fuel your desire for explore. We have something extreme under our sleeves. Shout out to Jacob Bacon for the photo of me on the ladder. Until the next post, xoxo.

Pontiac Silverdome Stadium

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The Silverdome Stadium, once home to the Detroit Lions, the Michigan Panthers, the Detroit Express, etc.. a building capable of seating 80,311 with 102 suites and 7,384 club seats ties this magnificent structure together. The finished building opened as the Pontiac Metropolitan Stadium in 1975 after $55.7 million dollars were poured into it with an original teflon fiberglass roof that suffered damage ten years after opened, leading to a replacement canvas roof reinforced with steel wires. After a series of storms and extreme weather changes, enough air pressure was left in the building to keep it held high for 25 years; from 1985-2013. After the Lions left the building, the city realized their finances were collapsing, thus leading to an auction for the building in 2009. Today, you can still find auction cards scattered in the hallways but what sucks the most is that… this building constructed for $55.7 million dollars, was sold for a bid of $583,000. April 17th, the Silverdome reopens for a night for a monster truck rally, 2010 and 2011 held some surprises for the building as well, but due to the collapse of the iconic Silver-Dome roof, the building has been left in shambles, metal wires coming down with such force that seats were cut like butter…. steel railings snapped in half, concrete steps left in two pieces. March of 2014, building owners announce the auction of building pieces such as seats, fixtures, scraps, etc. The end of this historical piece as we know it…. or is it? After our recent trip to the building, Detroit local news picked up our footage as you can see here, son of the building owner states that change is coming.

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80,000+ seats left to suffer all the seasons, and endure the abuse from the elements, including scrappers and demolition.

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The things we do for the sake of art.. go check out Johnny’s website at http://architecturalafterlife.com/

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Panels from the computer room still sits, nothing left but a skeleton of what once was.

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Moss grows on the ground to replace the carpets, how thoughtful, mother nature.

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LED boards broken, damaged and open to the elements. An awesome sight for tech savvy people.

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And last but not least, an empty restaurant booth, awaiting another meal with another local… abandoned. This is an incredible building for explorers, although i have not been back since our news cast.. I’ve heard the security may be upped. Enter at your own risk, and don’t disrespect this beauty! The Silverdome is STILL owned, although abandoned… beware of workers there whom are taking the south side of the building apart. Have fun, safe exploring.

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About Planet Perish

Ohio urban explorers documenting forgotten structures. Tell us about your local abandonment at planetperish@yahoo.com
 
Architectural Afterlife