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The Crumbling Classrooms of Harlem's Abandoned P.S. 186

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It's been nearly four decades since P.S. 186 on West 145th Street welcomed students, but the 111-year-old Italian Renaissance building is finally getting a second chance. Because of rundown conditions and safety concerns, the school closed in 1975 and has since sat empty, falling into decay, but it will soon be preserved and converted into 90-units of affordable housing and a new boys and girls club. Will Ellis of AbandonedNYC recently ventured into the crumbling school to capture the building's breakdown before its wiped clean. Ellis says P.S. 186 is his favorite abandoned place in the city, describing it as "more sepulchral than scholastic."

The Boys and Girls Club of Harlem bought the site in 1986 with plans to raze the structure and erect a new mixed-use facility, but protests erupted and plans were halted. Just recently, it was decided that the BGCH would preserve the building to create a new development. But this is still a long ways off from the current state of the historic structure:

Windows gape on four of its five stories, exposing classrooms to a barrage of elements. Spongy wood flooring, wafer-thin in spots, supports a profusion of weeds. Adolescent saplings reach upward through skylights and arch through windows. They're stripped of their foliage on this unseasonably warm February morning, lending an atmosphere of melancholy to an already gloomy interior. Infused with an odor not unlike an antiquarian book collection, upper floors harbor a population of hundreds of mummified pigeon carcasses?the overall effect is grim.

[A classroom in P.S. 186]

For more history and photos (including one of the pigeon carcasses), click through to AbandonedNYC.
· Inside Harlem's P.S. 186 [AbandonedNYC]