Populating My Solitude

Over the last ten years, New York City has grown to be my favorite city. The island of Manhattan alone has a dense, mysterious network of man-made structures soaring fifteen hundred feet aboveground and digging eight hundred feet below. The five boroughs of New York are connected by more than thirty-five bridges and tunnels that make the city a miraculous feat of engineering, architecture, and design. The city has an anatomy and a psyche as complex as that of any human being.

Experiencing feelings of alienation and anxiety in the city – a city that has increasingly become more surveilled and commodified – I began to understand how, many artists and authors suffered from severe bouts of depression, inertia, and isolation, which the term spleen embodies. One of the ways I escaped such feelings was to visit desolate and hidden places in the city. Every time I stepped out of the ordinary aboveground spaces that were filled with anonymous crowds, I felt regenerated and unrestrained.

Exploring industrial ruins and structures made me look at the city as one living organism. I started to feel not only the skin of the city, but also to penetrate the inner layers of its intestines and veins, which swarm with miniscule life forms. These spaces—abandoned subway stations, tunnels, sewers, catacombs, factories, hospitals, and shipyards—form the subconscious of the city, where collective memories and dreams reside.

I have always been fascinated by living beings reclaiming the urban ruins, having come across more than just rats: wild dogs, cats, birds, and bees nesting in sugar barrels in abandoned sugar factories. Envisioning imaginary beings that could dwell in these spaces, I began to occupy them myself. I became an animal or a child interacting with the surroundings. As I momentarily inhabit these deserted sites, they are transformed from strange to familiar, from harsh to calm, from dangerous to ludic.

-Miru Kim, 2009


Manhattan Bridge, New York, NY, USA

The Manhattan Bridge is the most exquisite bridge in New York.  For years I only looked up at the pigeon-blue domes and elegant metal latticework in admiration.  Finally when I climbed to the top I could look down to appreciate its beauty, while feeling the entire bridge vibrate every time the subway trains passed by. 


Williamsburg Bridge, New York, NY, USA

Until the 1920s, the Williamsburg Bridge had the record for the longest suspension bridge span on Earth.  New Yorkers celebrated its opening in December 1903 with fireworks over the East River.  Sitting on the bridge, I imagined a full procession of men in top hats and coats, carriages drawn by horses, and press photographers with large wooden box cameras.  

From the top of the bridge, the emotions that emanate from the spectacle of the city cannot be more unique.  Perched on a narrow beam, I felt the wind, and the tower gently swaying. 


Tour Saint-Jacques, Paris, France

“I was near you again, my beautiful wanderer, and you showed me, in passing, the Tour Saint-Jacques under its pale scaffolding, rendering it for some time now the world’s great monument to the hidden.”   From Mad Love (1937) by André Breton


Ossuary, Catacombes de Paris, Paris, France

After studying in Paris for a few months in college, I thought I knew the city quite well, but years later I realized that I had missed an entire layer underneath.  There are about 185 miles of tunnels, and only a mile is open to the public as a museum.  Some sections date back to 60 BC when limestone was first excavated to build temples, forums, and baths.  By the 18th century, some of the quarries that had been dug over centuries started to collapse and pose safety threats.  So the existing quarries were reinforced and new observation tunnels were constructed in order to monitor and map the whole system.  

Around the same time, Paris struggled with overflowing cemeteries.  In the city center, a mass grave called the Cimetière des Innocents became so unsanitary that it was causing serious maladies in nearby residents.  Starting in 1786, the contents of the cemetery were moved into the subterranean quarries.  Every night for two years, a macabre procession of horse-drawn carts filled with exhumed bones traveled from what is now Les Halles district, crossing the Seine, into the Montparnasse quarter.  

Now, the catacombs house the remains of over 6 million people.


Castle Room, Catacombes de Paris, Paris, France

Wandering in the catacombs of Paris can uncover all kinds of surreal landscapes.  When I came across a room with gargoyle heads and a miniature castle made by a sculptor in recent years, I was immediately transported onto Lilliput.  The ancient gargoyles laughed as I brushed off Lilliputian guards trying to stop me from advancing towards the medieval castle.    


Cemetery Stairway,  Catacombes de Paris, Paris, France

The sense of time becomes warped in the catacombs.  Nothing seems to change in the 20-meter deep tunnels—the temperature at 14ºC year-round, the constant water levels, and the damp, stagnant air.  When the lights are turned off, the darkness and the silence are so complete that I would start doubting my own existence after a few minutes.  Listening to my own breath, I would pace, tread, crawl, clamber for hours with little food and water and still feel alert and agile. Two hours become ten hours at a moment’s notice, and only once I finally exit my limbs would be stiff like those of a corpse. 


Phone Cables, Catacombes de Paris, Paris, France

In the 1950s, massive telephone cables were installed in the tunnels of Paris catacombs, in order to utilize the existing tunnels rather than to dig new ones.  By 1964, the cables ran for about 15 kilometers in the subterranean network of the 14th arrondissement.  To amplify telephone signals along the way, repeaters that weighed hundreds of kilos were hauled in.  Maintaining these devices posed a problem because the tunnels were difficult to access and to navigate.  Eventually the phone cables in the catacombs became obsolete in the 1980s.  From 1990 to 2008, all the cables were cut into 60-centimeter pieces and taken out to be sold for scrap.  The cross sections exposed bundles of countless copper wires—nerve fibers that used to relay messages all over the city. 


Innundated Gallery, Catacombes de Paris, Paris, France

In Paris I developed an obsession with carbide lamps.  These lamps burn acetylene gas produced when water reacts with calcium carbide, and they create a warm ambient light that is powerful and irreproducible.  They were invented in the 1890s and were widely used in mining for decades.  Even now, when exploring extensive underground spaces with water but without any electricity and easy access to exits, it is advisable to use carbide lamps, because they last very long and can always be refilled.  With modern battery-powered lights, there are more risks of malfunction which could, in rare cases, result in death.


Petite Ceinture, Paris, France

Abandoned rail tracks circle around the outer rim of central Paris.  Called the Petite Ceinture (“little belt”), the railway was built in 1852 to connect different railroad stations at the city limits and has been disused since the 1930s.  One of the tunnels that this railway runs through holds a hidden entrance to the vast network of the Parisian catacombs. 


Saint-Martin Station, Paris, France

The Saint-Martin station of the Paris Métro was shut down in September 1939, eight months before the German occupation of France.  The Parisian underground rail network is over 100 years old and has the most closely spaced stations in the world.  The closing of nonessential stations was a part of the plans drafted by the French government in case of invasion during the Second World War.  After the war ended, the Saint-Martin station was briefly reopened to showcase public advertising spaces in the metro that companies could buy.  The sample ads from 1948 still remain in good condition, because they were installed as reliefs in hand-painted ceramic tiles.  Companies would pay yearly to have their displays semi-permanently set on the walls.  In the present-day world where an average urban dweller is bombarded with thousands of marketing messages per day, handmade yearlong advertisements are unimaginable.  When rapidly changing commercial images saturate my mind to the point of rupture, I purge it in a place where ads have become mere historical artifacts. 


Freedom Tunnel, New York, NY, USA #1

In the 1930s, Robert Moses covered the New York Central Railroad line to expand and improve Riverside Park, creating a tunnel underneath.  With an increased use of cars and trucks for transportation, the tunnel was soon abandoned and became a haven for the homeless.  Hundreds of people moved into the tunnel and built their dwellings, creating underground communities.  In 1991, the tunnel was reopened for use by Amtrak, and the shantytown was bulldozed.  It is impossible to know what actually happened to all the evictees. 

The tunnel is called the Freedom Tunnel in reference to the graffiti artist “Freedom,” who created large murals in the eighties and the early nineties to commemorate the former residents.  The name may also imply the freedom one experienced in the tunnel—freedom from rent, freedom to paint, freedom from surveillance.  


Freedom Tunnel, New York, NY, USA #3

The Freedom Tunnel is a well-known tourist attraction among the underground travelers, such as urban explorers and graffiti writers.  To pay homage to Freedom’s murals from the eighties and the early nineties, graffiti writers from all over the world have put their marks in the tunnel.  Most murals and doodles are found under the ventilation ducts, from which natural light pours in, creating eerie spotlights for the underground gallery.

Graffiti has lost the power it once had as a means of expression.  Nevertheless, I can understand why there are groups of young people who religiously follow the subversive lifestyle of a graffiti writer.  In Europe I met many art students who asked me if New Yorksubway cars were covered in graffiti as in the photos from the 1970s.  Every time the question made me smile as I gave a negative answer.  The New York downtown art scene from the seventies and the eighties has been romanticized by many young aspiring artists, writers, and musicians.  They dream of living in abandoned cast-iron lofts, painting in the streets and tunnels, making sculptures on empty piers, and nightly carousing in one of the four clubs where everybody is intimately acquainted with one another.


Michigan Theater, Detroit, MI, USA

The Michigan Theater must have been the most glorious movie palace when it was built in 1926.  Its seating capacity of 4,050 was not enough to accommodate the crowd on the opening night.  The lobby could hold as many as 1,000 people waiting for the next showing.  After being partially demolished in 1976, it is now used as a parking garage, with large parts of the remains barely intact. 


Michigan Central Station, Detroit, MI, USA

Detroit was once one of the wealthiest cities in the world with the rise of the American auto industry in the early 1900s.  Now, the population of the city is reduced to about half of what it was in 1950.  The desolation and poverty are plainly visible.  Every direction I turned, I saw an abandoned building from the Gilded Age.  The streets conjured up what I imagined New York’s SoHo or TriBeCa to have looked like in the 70’s.

The Michigan Central Station has become a symbol of Detroit’s former radiance and present decay.  When it opened in 1913, it was the tallest rail station in the world, designed by the same architects that designed New York City’s Grand Central Terminal.  The main waiting hall was modeled after an ancient Roman bathhouse with marble walls and gold-plated chandeliers.  The station is now threatened with demolition after more than a decade of neglect. 


Richmond Power Station, Philadelphia, PA, USA

To celebrate the entry into an era of electricity, Philadelphia Electric Power Company built one of the most monumental power stations in the 1920s by the Delaware River in Port Richmond.  Constructed in the style of neoclassical architecture, the Richmond Station flaunts 130-foot cruciform ceilings in its turbine hall that once housed the largest Westinghouse turbo-generator in the world.  Since its closing in 1985, it has been continually damaged by weather and scrappers looking for valuable metal.  Recently it was denied historical designation by the Philadelphia Historical Commission.  Power plants like this from the Progressive Era epitomize the promise of wealth and prosperity that industrialization seemed to offer.   


Canada Malting Plant, Montreal, Canada

Malt is made by germinating grains such as barley by soaking them in water and then drying them in hot air.  The resulting product contains enzymes that are required to convert starch into sugar and is widely used for brewing beer or distilling liquor.  When it was built in 1905, the Canada Malting Plant could produce 32 tons of malt at a time, which eventually increased to 75 tons.  The most unusual feature of this building is that the giant silos that stored barley are made of terra cotta tiles.  Although it once boasted an ornate architecture and exemplified industrial Montreal, the plant now is slowly crumbling, shrouded in a fetid mist of malt fermented for 25 years. 


Glenwood Power Plant, Yonkers, NY, USA #1

The Yonkers Power Station of the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad was built between 1904 and 1906 when the steam locomotives were replaced by diesel-electric locomotives.  The roof superstructure of the building shows exposed metalwork on the façade which creates an intricate pattern juxtaposed with the more solemn brick body.  Two tall smoke stacks ringed with metal tie rods rise from one side, making the whole structure look like a two-headed sea monster rising out of the Hudson River. 


Glenwood Power Plant, Yonkers, NY, USA #2

About ten miles north of Manhattan, there is an abandoned power plant right on the Hudson River, by the Glenwood train station in Yonkers.  The heavily deteriorated interior of the power plant mysteriously conjures up an image of a 19th century Beijing opera house.  I envisioned Mei Lanfang in his bright costume performing on a platform ready to collapse any minute.  As he finished his last act, the audience of factory workers unanimously gave a standing ovation.  


Demolition Zone, Moraenae, Seoul, Korea

I have never lived in modern high-rise apartment buildings.  I also never understood why they are so unsightly.  In Korea, the rate of redevelopment is astonishing. Seeking abandoned structures in Seoul, I came across countless houses with traditional rooftops being bulldozed to make way for new apartment buildings.  Many houses were still full of personal memorabilia like family photographs.  Residents had evacuated quickly as if a natural disaster were approaching.  These scenes reminded me that the sense of security offered by man-made shelters is fragile and fugitive.  The high-rise apartment buildings will some day meet the same fate of being evacuated and demolished. 


Demolition Zone, Geumho, Seoul, Korea

Before searching for demolition zones in Korea, I had a romantic idea that Seoul was full of Moon Villages.  Only a few months ago, I came to the realization that all of the neighborhoods that would be equivalent to Brazil’s favelas were already razed to the ground.  I found one narrow street in a largely demolished area with small houses so close together that the entryways to three different family homes were merely a couple feet apart. The neighbors must have been very close, since they would have heard everything happening in each other’s houses.  The way the streets and houses are formed in a settlement like this is beautiful because it shows how the community was naturally constructed over time, leaving no records in blueprints or architecture books. 


Demolition Zone, Aeogae, Seoul, Korea

Streets from my childhood often appear in my dreams.  I am usually lost without any sense of where I am.   Alas even in reality, the streets from my childhood in Seoul have changed beyond recognition.  The images of these streets are now only faint snapshots stored somewhere very deep in my psyche.  An alleyway I came across in a demolition zone struck me with an uncanny recognition although I had never been there before. 


Hangang Sewer, Seoul, Korea

As a child I had a morbid fear of deep water.  The Han River for me became synonymous with death, not only because it seemed so wide and bottomless but also because I was repeatedly told that the water was toxic.  Everything becomes exaggerated in a child’s mind.  I always imagined that I would instantly die if I fell into the river.  

Recently, having discovered that the movie Gwoemul (dir. Bong Joon-ho) was filmed in an actual sewer under a bridge on the Han River, I sought out this monstrous space.    

The gaping mouth of the sewer reeked of carrion; many decaying carcasses of fish and birds were strewn about.  After spending hours inside the dark hollow, with only faint rays of light and echoing sounds of cars, I felt the space transform into a concrete temple, or a dead forest. 


River Tyburn, King's Scholars' Pond Sewer, London, UK

The Tyburn is one of the lost subterranean rivers of London.  Stretches were incorporated into the intercepting sewers that were built after The Great Stink of 1858.  The modernization of sewers between 1859 and 1865 required constructing 100 miles of tunnels using 300 million bricks.  The London sewerage system remains vastly undiscovered and unvisited to this day, except by a very few intrepid explorers.  The dangers include toxic gas and strong currents of waste matter.


Utility Tunnels, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA

When I was a student at Columbia University, I heard a fantastic rumor that under the campus there were secret tunnels that a group of students used to transport nuclear materials.  For some bizarre reason I imagined a band of footballers running around holding bombs in their chests.  Countless overnight stays inside the old Butler Library stacks with organic compound symbols, protein structures, and metaphysical jargon had depleted my sense of adventure, so I quickly dismissed the rumor and never gave it a second thought.  The vast majority of the students around me did not venture outside their comfort zones, and regrettably I was one of them. 

Two years after my graduation I learned that the rumor had some basis in truth.  At the Pupin Physics Laboratories, a team of scientists split the nuclei of uranium atoms in 1939, which then played a major role in initiating the Manhattan Project, and the subsequent production of atomic bombs.  From its decommissioning in 1965 until its dismantling in 2008, the 65-ton magnet of the cyclotron, a particle accelerator, was sitting in Pupin’s basement, which could be accessed only through the utility tunnels.  In 1987, a student who led an underground tunneling group got expelled for stealing uranium-238 from a forgotten storage room connected to the tunnel system.  He later became a journalist mistakenly captured by Afghanistan’s Taliban government. 

Creeping through the tunnels under my alma mater, I learned more about its history than I ever did as a student.  I saw obsolete artifacts like coal hoppers and the original foundation of Bloomingdale Insane Asylum, which was relocated when Columbia bought the property in 1892.  I also learned that the tunnels were used during the infamous Columbia University protests of 1968.  Five buildings were occupied by students indignant about the school’s decision to build a gymnasium on public property with a separate entrance for the local black residents.  At the same time they protested faculty involvement with US military intelligence during the Vietnam War.  The anti-racist and anti-war sentiments swept over the youthful protesters, who took any measures they could to protect their ideals.  A violent police raid on April 30, 1968 left 150 students injured, and more than 700 were arrested.  


New York City Farm Colony, Staten Island, NY, USA

The Richmond County Poor Farm was a poorhouse established in 1829, and as Staten Island became a borough of New York City in 1898, it changed its name to New York City Farm Colony.  Until the 1930s, the colony housed as many as 2,000 needy and elderly people who were required to work, cultivating various fruits, vegetables, and grains.  The rules were strict and the accommodations were minimal.  After the Social Security Act of 1935, the number of residents decreased and the facility eventually closed in the 1970s.


Nursing Home, Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY, USA

The sole of the foot contains the thickest layer of skin on the human body.  Like a hoofed animal, I walked over a field of shattered glass.  Then I hopped onto a pipe and perched like a lonesome pigeon. 


Bennett School for Girls, Millbrook, NY, USA

In the quiet village of Millbrook stands a 200-room Victorian gem that has been deteriorating for more than 30 years.  Halcyon Hall was originally built in 1893 as a luxury hotel, then sold to a college for women.  Generations of young women from prominent American families have been educated in Bennett School over its 85-year history.  Now this enchanting Queen Anne style structure stands dilapidated with collapsed floors and rooms full of debris. 

As I stood on the stage of the auditorium, I remembered what a harrowing experience it was to be on stage for the first time.  As the sounds from my cello resonated throughout the school auditorium, I felt my limbs go numb, wishing that the seats were empty.


Arthur Kill Ship Graveyard, Staten Island, NY, USA

Near the southernmost point of New York, there is a deserted graveyard of boats.  Vessels of all sizes—tugs, barges, cargos, and ferries—are left to sink and corrode. Therein lies even the fireboat Abram S. Hewitt, which fought the fire that killed more than 1,000 people on the steamship SS General Slocum in 1904.  This event was recorded as the worst loss-of-life disaster in New York history until September 11, 2001. 


Old Croton Aqueduct, Bronx, NY

Surrounded by brackish waters, New York residents had a limited supply of fresh water, although the population rapidly increased after the American Revolutionary War.  The main sources for water were cisterns and wells that were easily contaminated, and epidemics such as cholera and yellow fever spread quickly.  The Old Croton Aqueduct is a masonry tunnel that supplied fresh water to New York City for the first time, thus facilitating the city’s development into a greater metropolis.  The construction began in 1837 and took five years to complete, but it was abandoned after the New Croton Aqueduct opened in 1890 in response to the unprecedented growth of the city. 

Going inside a subterranean structure that has been abandoned and largely inaccessible for more than a century evokes an eerie feeling of time travel.  Sitting in the comfort of my own room and staring blankly at reproductions on my computer screen could not be enough.  I trudged through the damp tunnel for hours and felt the hand-laid brick with my bare hands, while being careful not to disturb the tiny sleeping bats.  With wet feet, I felt the aura of the space, cloaked in total black. 


Hell’s Kitchen Tunnel ("Luv Tunnel"), New York, NY, USA

Whenever I was struck with an unbearable ennui, I used to go alone to a dead-end tunnel on the west side.  Sometimes I would see a man sleeping there with a black cover pulled all the way over his head.  One day, when he wasn’t there, I decided to do a shoot.  As soon as I set my camera on the tripod and got ready, I saw a shadowy figure approaching.  Promptly I put my clothes back on and yelled out to him.  A brittle old man sat in his black office chair without a word.  When I calmly told him about what I was doing and asked him to sit on the other side of the camera, he silently cooperated.  After I was done, he offered me his shirt to wipe off my feet.  Then he started talking to me about how he was sent to Rikers Island and was abused above ground.  He had at last found peace and quiet in that tunnel.  I contemplated on how the tunnel was once built for the prosperity of the city but is now a sanctuary for outcasts who are completely forgotten in the average urban dweller’s everyday life.  After he finished his somewhat incoherent monologue, he kindly walked me out.  In the daylight he thanked me as we parted ways.  It must have been an unusual day for him. 

A couple years later, I learned that the man was a violent schizophrenic. 


Revere Sugar Factory, Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY, USA #1

As I started venturing out in 2005 to neighborhoods with industrial ruins, I immediately fell in love with Red Hook.  The Revere Sugar Factory is the first abandoned factory I entered alone.  After seeing its giant dome in a Brooklyn waterfront tour video, I hopped on the F train to Smith 9th street, a stop at which I had never gotten off before.  Walking in the general direction of the waterfront, I came across deserted parks, housing projects, giant empty grain silos, and 19th-century brick warehouses.  It was no wonder that Al Capone started out in that very neighborhood as a small-time criminal and got the wound that lead to his nickname, “Scarface.”  It was a late afternoon, and the silence of the streets made me apprehensive.  Walking along Beard Street, I saw an abandoned warehouse with a small hole in the fence I could barely fit through.  Only after some minutes of being inside did I realize I was already in the six-acre sugar factory complex.  


Revere Sugar Factory, Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY, USA #2

The Revere Sugar Factory was built in 1910 by the American Molasses Co. and was once owned by Antonio Floirendo, known as the “Banana King” for his vast banana plantations in the southern Philippines.  After its doors closed in 1985, it had been in ruins for more than twenty years.  The vast complex became a habitat for different kinds of animals and plants.  When I heard dogs barking, I thought they were guard dogs, but soon I recognized that a pack of feral dogs lived there, along with swans, ducks, rodents, and bees nesting in the barrels full of old sugar.  The floor of the domed structure was covered in old molasses and stamped with animal footprints.  Nature had reclaimed the space.  I remember feeling a tinge of envy for a wild dog that looked back at me briefly before running after his pack.


Revere Sugar Factory, Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY, USA #3

When manmade structures are neglected for decades, interiors become exteriors and artificial spaces become natural spaces.  In the Revere Sugar Factory, I left my footprints on the moss-ridden floor, among the tracks of other animals such as wild dogs, cats, geese, ducks, swans, rabbits, rats, and raccoons.  These creatures have been evicted as the 19th century maritime ruin was demolished and turned into a 6-acre mega-mall lot in 2007.  


Revere Sugar Factory, Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY, USA #4

After a few visits, I grew so comfortable inside the sugar refinery that it turned into a giant playground.  Time seemed to flow backwards as I became a child again—climbing ladders, hopping on beams, throwing pebbles through open floors, swinging on chains.  I would also sit by the water and squint at the sunken ship, or climb to a rooftop and watch the Statue of Liberty in the sunset.  

As the new IKEA made its way to Red Hook, the Revere Sugar Factory was demolished in 2007.


Rohrpost, Berlin, Germany

The Rohrpost is a pneumatic mail system used in Berlin from 1865 to 1976.  At its peak in 1940, the system had 400 kilometers of pressurized air tubes in total. Cylindrical cartridges containing letters or small packages were loaded into airtight tubes and were propelled by compressed air.  The mail could travel as fast as 35 miles per hour, which was many times faster than mail wagons.  This system was also widely used in New York, where the first attempt at an underground public transit system was a pneumatic railway.  In the late 1900s, the Rohrpost was eventually replaced by fax and email.  


Wiesenberg Asylum, Berlin, Germany

When I studied at the Berlin University of the Arts in the summer of 2005, I first came up with the idea of inserting my body into the derelict spaces I had become interested in.  At the time, I had been cutting images of factory farm pigs and pasting them onto photos of tunnels and subway tracks, and those computer montages were becoming enervating to make.  

One day I decided to ride the S-Bahn line 4 around the entire circle, as I often do in cities with elevated train lines, and saw a giant brick structure that seemed to be abandoned.  So I got off at the next station, found the fence, which I hopped over, and ran into a caretaker who mistook me for someone else and kindly led me inside to a painter who seemed to be squatting in the building.  I then found out that it was a homeless asylum built in 1885 to house 1,100 people.  Most of the complex had been bombed during the wars and was full of trees swallowing up the brick walls.  The people there were friendly and gave me access to their empty rooms and labyrinthian basement, which was once used as an ammunition storage and as a hideaway for groups of Jewish refugees.  In this structure I began experimenting with what became my first photography series.


Pinton Quarry, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France #1

Saint-Germain-en-Laye is one of the wealthiest communes in the suburbs of Paris, and had been a royal town prior to the French Revolution.  The Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye is a royal palace where numerous monarchs have resided.  Louis XIV, popularly known as the Sun King, was born there in 1638.  

To find the quarry that once provided the royal building blocks, I followed Honet into the bushes off the tourist path leading to the chateau, which is now an archeological museum.  Opening a small manhole hidden in the woods, climbing down a rusty ladder, and crawling with difficulty through a narrow pipe, I came out to airy rooms and marveled at the consolidation walls reaching up to eight meters. 


Pinton Quarry, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France #2

Everyone carries a shadow.  I try to be friendly with mine.  When it is blacker, bigger, and denser, I lull it with soothing words or sing or play, so it stays with me. 


Hangar Y, Chalais Meudon, France

Hangar Y is the first airship hangar in the world, built in 1879 in Chalais Meudon near Paris.  The building is about 70 meters long, 24 meters wide, and 26 meters high, and it stored La France, developed in the 1880s as the first dirigible that could be steered.  Once these giant balloons were predicted to be the transport of the future.  Then, as a German Zeppelin burst into flames in 1937, the use of airships as passenger transports went in rapid decline.