throughout the ages, mankind has been fascinated with the ruins of previous societies. from the remains of the roman empire to the elaborately constructed follies built in the 16th and 17th centuries, the desire to gain a greater understanding of our past has driven archaeologists, artists, and scholars across the world to study the vestiges of lifestyles that have vanished in an attempt to capture their mystique and beauty. through his collection of writing and photography on abandonedamerica.org, matthew murray has documented the ruins of one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever known: our own. fragments of the vanishing industrial era lie scattered throughout the empty factories that dot the countryside. the remains of our crumbling social institutions—from schools to asylums to prisons—not only show personal glimpses into the lives of previous generations, but also serve as an indicator of our present condition and the social trends that will shape our future.
now, for the first time ever, some of the most intriguing sites from abandonedamerica.org are collected in print. algonquin river state hospital, once a magnificently constructed asylum, is now a deadly labyrinth of sagging floors and gaping abysses. the julia de brogas middle school, which was created as an embodiment of quality education for the working class but eventually came to represent the worst failures of the inner city school system. among the others also featured are locations such as portside power plant, whose cavernous turbine hall is one of the largest open interior spaces ever built, and marigold mills fine textile company, a sprawling industrial complex with massive looms still threaded with the goods they were producing when the factory was shut down. filled with high-quality prints and more comprehensive historical backgrounds than those given on the website, the things we left behind is at once a eulogy and a tribute to the buildings that have defined our culture. whether you are interested in history, architecture, the art of photography, the social and philosophical issues raised by derelict sites, or are just curious about what might lie behind the deteriorating facades of the dilapidated relics in our midst, the things we left behind will take you on a trip you will never forget through the awe-inspiring beauty and profound sorrow that remain after life has ceased and only echoes remain.