Tag: urban exploration

Damaged by flooding in 1981, the former Austin Athletic Club in Austin, Texas, stood abandoned for 26 years. It was built in the 1920s, a time that conjures images of pommel horses supporting men with handlebar mustaches named Phineas (a popular name for handlebar mustaches).

It was the capital city's first rec center, serving the city for more than 5 decades, stretching back to a time when rec centers were used for exercise rather than D&D tournaments.

Deeming the building beyond repair, the city finally allocated the funds to tear it down in September 2007. Fortunately, a friend of mine dragged me there for an impromptu photo shoot the April just prior.

The ravages of time and water on the 81-year-old building's wooden structure did not disappoint in either aesthetics or perilous excitement, and I came away with a fair set of photos, which I've finally gotten around to posting here at the Roadside Resort.

I just came across a mention that the remaining structures of Sea-Arama Marineworld, the long-defunct marine park in Galveston, Texas, were torn down in September-October. As I never got a chance to visit the remains up-close, I'm really disappointed to hear they're no longer standing.

I wrote about Sea-Arama for Weird Texas (p.271, where the title was inexplicably changed to Sea-Arama Marineland) after I discovered the park's ruins by accident while investigating the mysterious Kettle House (p.152). And when I found out what the unusual buildings were, I was informed by my parents that I had actually been there when it was open. I had visited with them back in the '70s, along with my grandparents and my older brother, when I was a baby.

Evidently, this was my first road trip, which of course makes Sea-Arama my first official roadside attraction. Since learning this, I've taken to researching the park's history and collecting old Sea-Arama souvenirs. Even though I don't remember the original trip, I've developed a special fondness for the place. ... Continued

I actually stuck with my new rule this weekend and checked off one of my long-procrastinated locations. The old Twin Drive-In Theater in Fort Worth has been glaring at me for years now, and considering the likelihood that one more good spring storm could carry it off like the sides of the Bank One Tower 6 years ago, I figured this was a good place to start.

Of course, I got a little distracted on the way. But who among us can ignore the bright-yellow swoop of an abandoned Googie sign? Who, I ask!

This one marked the former location of the Boardwalk, an establishment apparently specializing in the "cocktail," though I doubt either of those syllables were ever used in this neighborhood to refer to alcohol. And yet, although the only thing left of this bar is its foundation, that hasn't stopped anyone from drinking on this corner.

I suppose that's why I've avoided shooting the Twin for so long — the condition of the neighborhood. I mean, it didn't take 3 minutes of standing on the roadside before my assistant was propositioned by a man in a windowless minivan. Really, whose pimp carries a 20D? And what sort of girl hooks next to a Corolla? ... Continued

A text message flashed on my cell phone this evening at about 6:45:

"Look at the moon! xoxo"

I do as my gadgets tell me, especially when there are x's and o's involved, so I stepped over to my window and peeked through the blinds. "Ah yes," I said, suddenly reminded that there was a full moon tonight, "There's a full moon tonight."

I hesitated before grabbing my camera bag, since I knew the moon wouldn't be nearly as spectacular by the time I got anywhere. But I figured I'd run out anyway and hit a recently abandoned factory I've been meaning to shoot.

After about half an hour trying to make the building's midcentury entryway appear as interesting on film as it was in person, a white van pulled up next to my car. Security, I figured. I expected someone eventually.

Now, I've been in this situation enough times to know what to do:

  1. Smile. It throws them off. Especially if you wave and say hi.
  2. Introduce yourself and tell them what you're doing. Those were going to be their first two questions, anyway, and they won't know where to go next.
... Continued