New York-based photographer Ali Hussain managed to gain access to Red Hook's off-limits grain terminal, which has sat shuttered since 1965 as a surviving (but just barely) testament to the Brooklyn waterfront's industrial heyday. Hussain's photo tour should go down in the great annals of ruin porn?it's got everything from shattered windows and graffiti to off-kilter machinery and collapsing columns. Hard to believe, isn't it, that this was where thousands of tons of grain were cleaned and prepared before being distributed to breweries and other local outlets. Fun fact: Its 54 rounded silos, which all abut each other, have been described as ladyfingers. Other intrepid urban explorers have sneakily scoped out the 1922-built, 12-story structure at the mouth of the Gowanus Canal (with one duo putting together a rad video); the grain terminal is also a Flickr favorite. In recent years, a mammoth Ikea replaced a nearby shipping terminal and sugar refinery. So, what will come of this vestige, which was once called the "Magnificent Mistake"? Wrote one fan: "I could not help but hope that the Grain Elevator would not end up being recycled into a Hilton hotel like in Akron, Ohio, or into luxurious condominium complexes like the plan the city has for the Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg."
Hussain describes his motivations for venturing into the abandoned grain elevator:
The allure for me is purely historical and nostalgia-based. It's just amazing to see a structure like this in a city where it no longer belongs. It's seeing two New Yorks. I think we live in an interesting part of New York's history, right on the shift of its industrial past and its gentrified future. ... All of these structures will soon be gone, wiped away as if they never existed. My interest comes in being able to see these places before they slowly vanish, just being able to see New York's history of what it used to be, firsthand, rather than through photos. Forty years from now, most likely no one will be able to see these structures. How, some might wonder, did he get in? Though Hussain isn't willing to divulge his secrets, he admits that it required research, persistence, and creativity. "And nerve, since you don't know what you'll find inside or who might stop you before you make it in, and the repercussions that come with that," he says. "But once you're inside, all that goes away and the risk ends up being worth it."
· Ali Hussain [official and Instagram]
· A Flood of Red Hook Post-Industrial Photos [Curbed]
· All Ruin Porn coverage [Curbed]