June 30, 2011 Slideshows » News & Views

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Exploring Atlanta's modern ruins 

Joeff Davis
The day began with a late breakfast south of I-20 and a drive down Moreland Avenue to the Atlanta Prison Farm, the city’s long-abandoned, 300-acre correctional facility. Members of SPECTRE, Atlanta’s most organized group of urban explorers, pass building after building looking for an access point to enter the prison farm’s crumbling structures. (Breaking into locations violates the urbexers’ code.)
Joeff Davis
The former facility, which used to house hundreds of the city’s vagrants, drug addicts, and drunks, has started to crumble over the years, making it a must-visit location for urban explorers.
Joeff Davis
The facility’s second floor caught on fire in 2009, leaving charred beams and rusted pipes. A long row of rusted, individual steel cells, however, remains intact.
Joeff Davis
Chris, a 19-year-old college student from Chattanooga, Tenn., gazes through the bars at the kudzu and ivy that hide the prison farm’s structures from view.
Joeff Davis
Walls once visited by taggers are peeling, revealing a new canvas underneath.
Joeff Davis
The former facility, which contains cavernous rooms and ample canvases, has become a favorite stop for graffiti artists. This piece, playing off the classic Merle Haggard song, was found in an individual cell on the second floor.
Joeff Davis
The narrow hallway where officers once patrolled is lined with puddles. Some of the cell windows, many of which have been shattered, frame what were cramped living conditions: A cot, a metal table, and a toilet.
Joeff Davis
SPECTRE members slipped through an open fence to access a long driveway that ultimately leads to the prison farm’s remaining dilapidated structures.
Joeff Davis
An abandoned house — which, according to online message boards was once the home of a prison official — was covered in spilled paint (some still wet) and totally stripped. Message board posters say the home has since been used for SWAT team drills.
Joeff Davis
In what appears to be the building where jailers processed inmates, large crates contain books about 1980s hair metal bands, self-help topics, and academic studies.
Joeff Davis
Documents detailing what prisoners surrendered after being processed still litter the floor. Listed on this gentleman’s sheet is “one honest face.”
Joeff Davis
Prisoners were jailed for a variety of offenses. This sheet, from the 1980s, shows an impressive number of cocaine possession charges.
Joeff Davis
SPECTRE members entered the intake building through a large opening created by a crumbling roof. Old roof beams, some of which are rotted and covered in rusty nails, act as ramps.
Joeff Davis
SPECTRE members also visited an abandoned, boarded-up Atlanta school just off one of Atlanta’s busiest roads. Judging by documents still stapled to a hallway corkboard, the school closed in the mid-1990s.
Joeff Davis
The school, which lacks electricity, has slowly fallen victim to disrepair and rain damage. Sunlight pouring in broken windows fills the hallways, which are covered by a thick layer of dirt and plaster falling from the sagging ceilings.
Joeff Davis
Classrooms where children once learned reading, writing and arithmetic are now bombed-out and hollow with mold splotches on the walls. Squatters have been known to live in the building.
Joeff Davis
Nearly all desks, chalkboards, pipes and anything else that could be of value have been stripped.
Joeff Davis
Odd items, however, remain. An oversized teddy bear has been slowly covered by plaster and dirt falling from the ceiling. Urbexers don’t touch or take any items, allowing others to one day find them.
Joeff Davis
Holes in walls and ceilings allow sunlight to fill the abandoned school, illuminating scenes such as this stairwell, which looks as if it was the target of a bomb raid.
Joeff Davis
In one corner of the school’s old auditorium, the ceiling is completely open, allowing bushes and weeds to sprout. Ceiling tiles dangle like mobiles from metal rods. The team takes their time in the room to compose photos at different exposures. Later that afternoon, SPECTRE members would return to the school to take additional photos.
20/20
Joeff Davis
In one corner of the school’s old auditorium, the ceiling is completely open, allowing bushes and weeds to sprout. Ceiling tiles dangle like mobiles from metal rods. The team takes their time in the room to compose photos at different exposures. Later that afternoon, SPECTRE members would return to the school to take additional photos.
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