Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Super Villian's Secret Laboratory

Once again, Zach took an opportunity in New York. Who can blame him though? Great pay, great experience and all in a great city. The main downside was he would be missing out on any further Queen City exploring for awhile. We wanted to send him off the right way, by exploring/photographing something new in the area, something none of us had previously seen.

We had spent the earlier part of the evening driving around, looking for something new to explore. After scouting out a few locations on our watch list, nothing really seemed too promising. The sky was gray, the Reds were losing and not at home, no other events were going on downtown and I stepped in dog shit on the lawn of an abandoned church. We stopped by our old standby, the Hudepohl Brewing Company, to show the former brewery to Sarah from Brewtiful Cincinnati, who is currently working on a book about Cincinnati's brewing history. Hudepohl was hotter than hell and we had seen most of it already. We said our goodbye's to Sarah and her husband, then looked for a place to eat (By the way, Walt's Barbeque is highly recommended).

The sun went down rain drops started to fall as we exited I-75 just north of downtown. A barking dog greatly inconvenienced us as we approached the collapsed gate of a large abandoned industrial building and office complex. Not wanting to wake the locals, we decided to save this location for another time. We seemed to be out of luck and almost out of time, when we remembered a building just across the highway.

- The scent of the nearby Jim Beam plant filtered down as rain started to pour.

Driving Northbound on I-75 is really the only way to get a good luck at this place. As you approach it, the buildings go from best to worst. You see the bustling Jim Beam facility, then that slowly turns into closed, dilapidated buildings before ending with a scrap yard of vehicles. Once you're up close and off the highway, the building is bordered by a rail line.

The front end of the building touts a sign advertising an automobile repair shop, across the street a few drunks stumble out of a bar towards cars blaring rap music, but along the rail line, boarded up windows and doors adorn the building. Climbing up onto what was once a station platform for receiving freight, we came across a hole in the sheet metal facade.

- Climbing the fire escape up the "Gibey's Gin" tower.

The front yard was trashed. Construction equipment, scrap wood, buckets and automobiles were everywhere. Since the downstairs looked occupied and we didn't want to disturb anyone's property, we decided to climb the crumbling fire escape.

- Graffiti atop the tower.

As we climbed the fire escape, graffiti covered up the remains of a faded moniker reading "Gilbey's Gin." Upon reaching the top, broken glass and busted doors gave way to nothing but a certain fall and a likely serious injury, neither of which we cared to encounter. We just enjoyed the view of the partially abandoned complex and it's surrounding industrial neighborhood.

- Overlooking I-75 and the surrounding scrap yard from the tower.

- Rail cars fly by at night.
Cautiously retreating back down the fire escape, we reached the rooftop of an adjoining building and followed the catwalk which lined the tar and gravel surface.

- Rooftop catwalks make for interesting climbing.

Catwalks lead to other rooftops. Rooftops lead to passages overlooking the adjoining rail line. These areas were probably once used to fill rail cars from above. We followed along the passage until entering a hole in the wall where a door once stood.

- Secret Laboratory?
We entered a room with a tiled, checkerboard ceiling. Judging by the equipment found here, it was once a laboratory of sorts. However, I think it's more interesting to think that this may have been the lair of some evil super villain.

The light from the outside flood lights poured into the "super villain hideout" as if it was daylight. Nothing really remained to indicate who the former tenants were and what kind of work was done here. A network of empty rooms gave way to a door marked "exit."

Following the stairs downward past the "exit," we reached a dead end of bolted doors. Retracing our steps, we found ourselves back on the rooftops. This time we were going up, instead of down.

Ladders often appear rusty, but that can be deceiving. The one pictured above was secure and not too tall (heights are not one of our biggest interests). Now we were viewing the complex from the other end.

We questioned the history of this building as trains crawled by on one side, cars speeding by on the other. A more elaborate analysis of the abandonment of industrial places can be found on Zach's website, Local . Architecture Cincinnati.

A debate arose, call it a night or venture further upwards? A ladder, with a protective ring, was fastened to the side of the three story tower section pictured above. The view and photographs from such a location, could be promising, but the exposure to anyone looking our way could make passersby think we were up to no good as opposed to honest urban exploration photography.

Well to be honest, it was hot and starting to rain again. It was also already midnight and Zach still had to pack for his departure to NYC. We all agreed the time spent lugging our backpacks, tripods and selves up the ladder wouldn't yield that good of a view or very good photographs. We instead decided to call it a night and return to Seicer's apartment, the command center of our exploring operations.

From the roof of Seicer's residence, we celebrated exploring a new location and had a little send off for Zach featuring local favorites Christian Moerlin and Little Kings for those old enough to partake, Mcdonald's Sweet Tea for those who weren't. Even when you feel down and out and think there's not much more to see or explore around the area, you just might find something new.

- The view from the top of our base of operations.

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