Concrete City

Category Exploration Date Status Province / State Country
Houses Abandoned Pennsylvania United States

History: 

These buildings were opened in 1913 to provide model housing for key, "high value" employees and supervisors of the DL & W Railroad's Coal Division, who paid a rent of $8.00 per month. In 2008 dollars, using the Consumer Price Index, that would be $179.42. One additional requirement of these employees was that they had to speak English as their first language.

The buildings were originally white with dark green trim, and were repainted every two years, inside and out. There were no washrooms inside these units, but rather an outhouse, also made of concrete.

The community had a wading pool, tennis courts, playground, baseball field, and a small community pavilion.

Problems quickly developed with moisture inside the units. One of the residents recalled how her father's shirts froze in the upstairs closet during the winter, and how her mother had to iron them every morning. Paint and plaster were peeling from the walls by 1920.

The complex was closed in 1924.

In that same year, the property was acquired by the Glen Alden Coal Company. They discovered that they would be required by the township to install a sewage system at a cost of $200,000. Again, in 2008 dollars, this would mean an investment of over $2.5 million. By December, they decided to demolish the existing buildings.

It is alleged that 100 sticks of dynamite had little impact to one of the buildings, and demolition was discontinued, leaving the buildings as you see them today.


Personal Commentary: 

I have come to the conclusion that nothing is ever as easy on the ground as it appears on Google Earth.

Looking at this location on GE, you believe that access should be quite simple and easy. The road passes by some houses, sure, but it continues in far enough not to necessarily be an issue.

As I drove up the road, however, a gate blocked the way. As this gate was right in the neighborhood, and given that my understanding was that the locals didn't like people parking there, I couldn't just stay here.

I drove back out to the main road, and parked on the shoulder. I saw another dirt road that was too rough for the truck, but at least appeared to be going in the right direction. I began walking, going mostly by memory of what I'd seen on GE. Shortly after passing behind someone's garden, I arrived.

Apparently, these buildings were formed with a mold. The upper floor was cast from the same mold as the downstairs. As a result, there was even a flight of concrete stairs that just led up into the ceiling.

Each building was virtually identical, containing two units, each a mirror image of the other. Obvious signs of years of almost constant partying were everywhere, and not a single surface was unadorned by graffiti.

It didn't take much imagination to see children playing in the courtyard surrounded by buildings. To hear people coming and going as their lives dictated. It's difficult to believe that they weren't occupied nearly as long as they've been vacant.


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