Fort Ord Requiem
Photographs by Susan Bein
by Susan Bein
About the Book
Photographs of some of the beautiful deserted buildings that made up Fort Ord.
For over seventy years, Fort Ord occupied an area the size of San Francisco on the Monterey Bay in California.
In its heyday over 50,000 troops were in residence, and there were over 5,000 buildings on its grounds, including not only housing and offices, but theaters, churches, hospitals, prisons, stables, kennels, an olympic pool, hockey rink and a bowling ally. It was a good-sized city.
This isn’t a documentary or academic study of Fort Ord. There is abundant information online for the curious, and it was decommissioned in 1994, four years before I moved to the Monterey area, so I don’t claim to be any sort of expert on it.
I was moved by the sense, as I walked through its deserted buildings, that there remained a tangible sense of the people who had occupied it. Not ghosts exactly, but evidence of the imprint so much life had made, and the poignant absence of activity that settled on it now.
Nature had already begun the process of reclaiming it, erasing every mark man had made, breaking even steel and concrete into their elemental forms, covering paved roads with weeds and shrubs poking through widening cracks . The entire fort stood as a memento mori, forlorn, melancholy, silent.
Began with black and white photography in the 1960s, took workshops with Ansel Adams, Minor White, Paul Caponigro and Aaron Siskind. Transitioned to digital photography and now use iPhone almost exclusively. I have a solo show coming up in April, 2017 at Camerawork Gallery in Portland, Oregon.