Manufactures Village, the original home of Seabury & Johnson (later Johnson & Johnson) sits in East Orange, New Jersey. Built in the late 1880s, the complex overflows with fascinating detail and industrial character. Currently, Manufactures Village houses an array of small businesses, light industry, and art studios.
A few weeks ago, my friend and I spent a Sunday morning documenting a gargantuan industrial property situated on the borderlands between Essex and Hudson Counties, New Jersey. We snapped hundreds of photographs, jotted down notes, and exchanged innumerable observations. Recently, we transformed our creative material into an article submitted to a very niche and captivating publication. Fingers crossed.
During our urban archaeological exploration and our writing efforts, we realized that such mothballed industrial and institutional sites risk being lost to history and the collective imagination. Such places are often brutal, ugly, unwieldy, and highly contaminated, if not outright toxic, yet they embody a vanishing way of life and work. In more vibrant, affluent localities, the better preserved or historically landmarked structures might be rehabbed and converted into offices, businesses, apartments, work spaces, or even light industrial centers.
DUMBO, Brooklyn has transitioned from a shipping and industrial engine into a neighborhood of pricey real estate, tech firms, trendy nightlife, and cutting edge culture. In Sunset Park, Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Army Terminal has blossomed as an anchor for innovative light industry in the city. However, for every such case, a huge swath of a struggling city remains blighted by long empty warehouses, factories, and workshops. Think Detroit or small cities in Pennsylvania.