Photographs by Steven Boss ’71, SW’76, BUS’78

Boss’s work is featured in this issues Big Picture, “Abandonment Issues.”

Credits for all photographs: Steven Boss ’71, SW’76, BUS’78

This image of an Upstate New York power plant is one of my favorites — a stove, a squat green table and icicles hanging over a slushy floor. All in all, a most appealing room. The colors are beautiful and the window reflection is perfect. After several fruitless trips with no access, we finally hit pay dirt, albeit wet and slippery.


The Phillipsburg Pump House of the Peoples Water Company in New Jersey was built in 1913 and used continually until 1969. This photo was taken at the bottom of the pit after descending the elegant stairs — I do love staircases, especially this spiral one. It was fairly dark at the bottom (the photo required a 13-second exposure), but access was easy, as we had that rare commodity — permission.


This defunct power plant in New York City was dark, damp and not very safe. We had to scale a brick wall with a rope to get in through a window. I was unable to carry a tripod, and consequently, my shots were handheld at long exposures. This was a lovely staircase to shoot, but not exactly easy to climb.


The Richmond Power Plant on the Delaware River in Philadelphia is a cavernous facility that operated from 1925 to 1985. One could spend days photographing the details, but alas, we only had a few hours, as our permission to enter was limited. The pastel colors of this nook are all real. As for the water, I don’t think the source is still the river.


I call this “Rollers along the diagonal amongst the bricks at the arms factory.” Detritus galore! A lot of bricks, a lot of dust and lead, but plenty of fresh air. There is much beauty to behold in this rapidly decaying Connecticut facility, but it is recommended to avoid on rainy and very cold days.


This image is from a stone-crushing mill along the Delaware River. The bulb socket on the door through the window is a special touch, as is the blue and red color scheme. No wildlife was encountered on the premises — just a lot of leftover rocks and a bit of pixie dust.


This is Cellblock 5 of Eastern State Penitentiary, in the heart of Philadelphia. We did not have to break into the prison like we did for a county jail in New Jersey. In fact, anyone can visit Eastern State — it’s now a museum. Cellblock 5 is off-limits, though, and this photo was shot between the bars. This penitentiary is not what it used to be, and it needs a good vacuuming, but it is well worth the visit.