A Vanishing New York: Ruins across the Empire State

Photographs by John Lazzaro, Foreword by Thomas Mellins

Available July 2022


New York is filled with forsaken buildings, each ravaged by the exploits of modernization, each having fascinating histories. This photographic essay explores over 40 of the most evocative abandoned sites in the Empire State and puts their individual stories in the larger context of New York’s historical legacy. Photographer and author John Lazzaro traveled the state, capturing what’s left of such places before they are inevitably swept away by time. Divided by region, these sites, ranging from the Catskills’ once-vibrant vacation destinations to Long Island’s melancholy psychiatric centers, reveal deeper social, cultural, and political changes that lead to their decay. These abandoned hospitals, schools, churches, railways, and estates offer us a view into a past rapidly dissolving before it disappears completely. With a Foreword by architectural historian and author Thomas Mellins, this is a valuable meditation on the nature of decay and progress, remembrance and forgetfulness, past and present.

Size: 11" x 9" | 174 color and b/w images | 176 pp
ISBN13: 9780764363580

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John Lazzaro is a documentary filmmaker and documentary photographer based in Long Island, New York. In his approach to photography, Lazzaro draws upon his experiences from documentary filmmaking in order to create a realistic, visual, and thought-provoking dialogue of the macabre. His main focus is capturing abandoned buildings and vanishing architecture throughout New England.

He is fascinated by history, storytelling, and visual design, and his documentaries address topics of social awareness. Hindsight (2010) offered a painful look at Long Island’s heroin epidemic. His most recent documentary, Masters of Cruelty (2018), takes an eye-opening look at New York’s animal abuse laws as told through those fighting against cruelty cases on Long Island. His photo book The Walls Still Talk documents the decades of neglect and decay of the Kings Park Psychiatric Center in Kings Park, New York, as a result of deinstitutionalization.

Lazzaro is a member of the Firefly Gallery in Northport, New York, and fotofoto gallery in Huntington, New York.