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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

The Glass Factory

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BROOKLYN, NEW YORK – In early March, I discovered a missing board on the hoarding surrounding an abandoned glass factory in my neighbourhood in Brooklyn. The day prior to these photos being taken demolition had begun on this derelict structure. The missing board was too tempting to pass so I grabbed my friend Jenn and we decided to venture in.

From scrap glass this factory used to produce those little coloured stones you would find in the bottom of aquariums, so the place was filled with old glass bottles, plates, cups, vases, anything that was glass. We found some awesome art deco cologne bottles, Victorian glass ware, an endless supply of miniature glass vases and the list goes on.

It always amazes me what people leave behind when they abandon a place. Needless to say we took an extensive collection of glass items and are now creating a collective photo essay/found object exhibition for a gallery.

Even though this place was in the beginning stages of demolition it was evident that nature and time had already begun the process many years prior. Sections of ceiling had caved in, there were massive holes in the floor allowing glimpses into a flooded basement, and turquoise paint was peeling off in beautiful coiled sheets.

Not only was this place an amazing find for enthusiasts of abandoned buildings, it was an amazing collection of additions created of corrugated steel, brick, siding, asphalt shingles; pretty much any building material you could find. The inside was like a rabbit warren of hallways and rooms, one leading into the next leaving you without bearings. The sound of dripping water and the smell of must made the experience even that more surreal.

I hope you enjoy this brief photo essay below with a few video clips. I’m working on creating several photo essays of abandoned structures I’ve been exploring in Brooklyn and Manhattan, so there will be more in the future. Once we have created our gallery show, I hope to put that on line and will post it on the Wire. That will be a far more cohesive, and in depth exploration of this and other similar sights.

Joe Clement, a long-time Spacing magazine contributor, left his hometown of Toronto in the summer of 2007, and is now living in New York. He will be our Big Apple correspondent covering public space issues. If there are any particular ideas or topics you would like him to cover, leave a comment or email Spacing Toronto.



  1. Hi Joe, cool find. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    What intrigues me about dense urban areas(such as NY city) is the populace’s availability of outdoor basketball courts.

    It would be interesting to get a glimpse into the condition and size of NY’s courts. I’ve never been to NY, but I hypothesize that there are many more courts there than we have here in Toronto. This may be due our climatic differences or the popularity of the sport.

    Whatever the reason(s), I also want to add that basketball courts or any other public recreational infrastructure stimulates secondary uses in the area, which is a very interesting concept. Lastly, even though basketball has standard rules, the game is played slightly different on each court; the home crowd enforcing the rules (such as what the game is played until, or how many players per team).

    I wouldn’t expect you to dig that deep into the topic of basketball in NY boroughs, but its an interesting thought.

  2. Hi Joe. Love your pieces from NYC. Hope you’re well. You did a gorgeous job re-doing my front garden at my old house. Keep up the great work!