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Ghostly Ruins: America's Forgotten Architecture    by Harry Skrdla order for
Ghostly Ruins
by Harry Skrdla
Order:  USA  Can
Princeton Architectural Press, 2006 (2006)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Belle Dessler

Even if you don't believe in the existence of ghostly spirits, it's hard to look at the two hundred images depicted in this book and not feel a shiver run up your spine. Skrdla explores thirty abandoned places, taking us through them one by one. He delves into their past and shows us their present, but ultimately it's the lingering images of the haunting architecture that will stay with you long after you flip the last page.

In his introduction, the author tells us that 'Poe or Lovecraft would have cherished these places. The prevailing climate is one of damp and chilly darkness. The prevailing mood is somber and desolate.' Amazingly, that same atmosphere comes through clearly in the pages of this book. While you'd expect the decrepit remains to hold less power in picture format than they would if you were to walk through their caved-in rooms, the vivid black-and-white depictions are truly stunning.

Skrdla takes us on an unforgettable journey through places that have been all but forgotten by anyone but those who still own them or have reason to remember what they represent. It's an intriguing exploration. In Chapter 1, we begin by visiting Transportation locales, such as the Michigan Central Depot, a haunting marble structure that speaks of days when it was a busy railroad station rather than simply a run-down building. From there, we move on to Industry and are invited to get a glimpse of places like The Bethlehem Steel Mill and The Packard Plant.

There are Commerce sites and Public Works buildings, places that look like Home and Amusement locales. Second-to-last, we have Reincarnation, where we're shown The Minneapolis Stone Arch Bridge and The West Baden Springs Hotel, buildings that could have crumbled into nothingness but were saved. And finally, there are Epitaphs, better known as 'ruins that are no more.'

Readers with vivid imaginations may be disturbed by some of the images documented in this eerie book, but it makes a truly superb gift for anyone interested in the history of forgotten structures. Fans of the paranormal who want to learn more about some of the historical sites where ghosts may still linger will also be enthralled by Ghostly Ruins.

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