Mon Valley 2017      


These photos were taken during my July 10, 2017 exploration of the Monongahela River Valley, southeast of Pittsburgh, PA.  I made stops in Donora, Monessen and Brownsville and scouted the neighboring towns of Roscoe, Coal Center and Monongahela.  The skies became cloudier and more threatening as the day progressed — rainstorms rolled in after 2pm, forcing an end to my Mon Valley expediton.

There is a sub-genre of urban photography that I call ruins or abandoned photography: the exploration and documentation of crumbling structures, ideally (I guess) with original furnishings inside.  Needless to say, trespassing is often involved.  The Mon Valley is a popular destination for such photography — that is how I heard about Brownsville.

Although I do like shooting the aged and rusted and their interesting textures, I am not into the tragedy of urban blight.  When I arrived in the Mon Valley and saw what I saw, I felt more depressed than artistic.  I’m a composer, not a documentarian.  Many of these images were hard for me to capture dispassionately.  Yet it was a privilege to have seen this for myself.

And sad to say, it was hard to limit my selection of these images of decay to twelve.

A triple-bar symbol after the image title invites you to click on the image to view a larger version and read additional commentary.  The titles and locations of the photos in this gallery are listed below.

Holy Name of The Blessed Virgin Mary Church (Donora)

• United Methodist Church (Monessen)

At the Corner of Sketchy and Dicey (Monessen)

Fifth Street Apartments (Monessen)

The Valley Independent (Monessen)

Health Market (Monessen)

A Doorway on Market Street (Brownsville)

Three Floors, Two Fireplaces (Brownsville)

Entrance to Union Station (Brownsville)

First Baptist Church (Brownsville)

Brownsville General Hospital (Brownsville)

Monongahela National Bank Reimagined (Brownsville)

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