Modern Ruins: Portraits of Place in the Mid-Atlantic Region by Shaun O'BoyleModern Ruins: Portraits of Place in the Mid-Atlantic Region by Shaun O'Boyle

Modern Ruins: Portraits of Place in the Mid-Atlantic Region

PhotographerShaun O'BoyleIntroduction byGeoff Manaugh

Hardcover | September 13, 2010

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Shaun O’Boyle has been photographing ruined landscapes and buildings, primarily in the mid-Atlantic region, for more than twenty-five years. This collection of photographs features some of his best work. The book is divided into four sections, each representing a type of site now abandoned—prisons and mental health institutions, steel production facilities, coal mining and processing facilities, and a weapons arsenal. These photographs are hauntingly beautiful; they are also historically and culturally instructive.

Modern Ruins begins with an introduction by architectural essayist Geoff Manaugh, who offers insight into why people are so drawn to ruins and what they might mean to us in a larger psychological sense. Brief essays by noted historians Curt Miner, Kenneth Warren, Kenneth Wolensky, and Thomas Lewis offer social and historical contexts for the sites documented in the book. These sites include Eastern State Penitentiary, Bethlehem Steel, and Bannerman's Island Arsenal, among others. The book concludes with an interview with the photographer that touches on his fascination with ruins and explores some of his procedures for documenting them. Modern Ruins is a compelling collection of stunning and melancholy photographs, one that helps us hear these abandoned places speak.

Shaun O’Boyle is an architectural designer and photographer who lives in Dalton, Massachusetts. His current projects include documenting the Gettysburg battlefield in Pennsylvania and the early space program at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Title:Modern Ruins: Portraits of Place in the Mid-Atlantic RegionFormat:HardcoverDimensions:120 pages, 10.33 × 8.6 × 0.72 inPublished:September 13, 2010Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271036842

ISBN - 13:9780271036847

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Relics and Ruins, the beauty within Photography I have a thing for rustic windows, and things that somehow return to their organic, rustic origin. All the artificial colors and signage seems to disappear, and the primeval elements of metal and stone are revealed. This of course is especially subtle in black and white photos, that make these structures somehow elegant and lovely. Sure, I'd hate to have miles of these abandoned structures out my window or on my commute. But in their photos, O'Boyle takes them out of the 'real world' and into a more unique frame of thought. It's like looking at old headstones and realizing two things: the representation of what once was alive, and the way the passage of time creates something new and yet still alive (rust, decay, encroaching plants). The most impressive are the ones showing exterior windows, some clinging to just a few shards of glass. And interior photos from Bethlehem Steel, monsterous open spaces surrounded by stick trusses and steel posts look as ghostly and haunted as you'd imagine. In some photos, the small paned windows look more like the bars in jail cells...did the former workers symbolically escape when the factories closed? In fact, the Eastern State Penitentiary are especially poignant, with the frames of old metal cots under elegant barrel-rolled ceilings.   Having spent years in architecture, I appreciate the unique style and efforts that went into the most mundane of buildings-moldings, pediments, trim...things that modern construction eliminates due to costs. The Northamptom State mental hospital is especially elegant, eyebrow arches, miles of deep crown molding and panel trim makes the abandoned interior look more elegant than many McMansions today. Insightful essays are inserted that discuss what the decay symbolizes in view of modern times. Photography fans would love this coffee-table style book...
Date published: 2011-01-19

Table of Contents



Introduction: The Survivals

Geoff Manaugh


Curt Miner


Kenneth Warren


Kenneth C. Wolenksy


Thomas Lewis

Interview with the Photographer

Editorial Reviews

“Those old enough to have grown up in the shadows of factories have seen those same factories become either ruins or condos. O’Boyle’s black-and-white photos capture both the grittiness and the poignancy of such disparate—yet oddly similar—sites as the Eastern State Penitentiary, the Bethlehem Steel Works, and the bizarrely grand arsenal on Bannerman’s Island near Cold Spring, NY.”

—Frank Wilson, Philadelphia Inquirer