Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dilapidated Stores, Mill Street, Jackson, Mississippi

North Mill Street runs parallel to the Canadian Pacific (and Kansas City Southern?) railroad line in Jackson. The name "Mill" indicates its former industrial origins. Today, Mill Street north of the recently-renovated Union Station is a mess, with abandoned lots, crumbling houses, and concrete slabs. This part of Jackson is imploding.
This is a garage at 214 Mill Street. The crumbling doors made it look abandoned. But inside, there were semi-recent cars. So possibly it is a going concern, but it is hard to tell.
This is a store that formerly occupied the corner of Mill and West Monument Streets. It has been razed. I wrote about it in a 2013 article.

This is an old-fashioned local corner store at 758 Mill, at the corner at West Cohea Street. It is deserted, and the roof is beginning to collapse into the upper floor. I did not want to venture inside. Stores like this once served the local residents, who did not have automobiles or the ability to reach a supermarket.
The cottage at 744 has a cheerful garden. I took this from the rickety steps leading up to the 2nd flood of the corner store. Some people below waved and said hi.
Across the street at 903 was a car shop. The tracks are behind. The Amtrak comes along this line en route to Union Station.
This is a shop at 906, across West Cohea from the abandoned 2-storey store. There is still a need for a local store to serve the residents. I have more photographs from this area, but they are on film and must be scanned. Someday when I have time....

2015 photographs taken with a FujiFilm X-E1 digital camera.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Pashupatinath: Holy Nepal Hindi Site in Danger

We often think of Nepal as a profoundly Buddhist country, but the largest number of Nepalis (up to 83 percent according to the 2011 census as reported in Wikipedia) are Hindus. The most holy Hindu site in the Kathmandu valley is the Temple of Pashupatinath, located along the banks of the Basmati River. The Pashupatinath Temple (Nepali: पशुपतिनाथ मन्दिर) is one of the seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Kathmandu Valley. According to Wikipedia, the area of Pashupatinath covers 264 hectres (652 acres), within which are 518 temples and monuments.
The Bagmati River (in Nepali: बागमती नदी) flows through the Kathmandu valley, separating the Kathmandu from Lalitpur regions. Both Hindus and Buddhists consider it a profoundly holy river. Unfortunately, now it is badly polluted from raw sewage and industrial waste that pours into it.

As a first-time visitor, it is hard to get a sense of the scale of the temple complex. It seems to extend indefinitely over a jumble of buildings, terraces, alleys, and walls.
The Bagmati is sacred to Hindus because the dead are cremated on the banks of the river. From Wikipedia: "According to the Nepalese Hindu tradition, the dead body must be dipped three times into the Bagmati River before cremation. The chief mourner (usually the first son) who lights the funeral pyre must take a holy river-water bath immediately after cremation. Many relatives who join the funeral procession also take a bath in the Bagmati River or sprinkle the holy water on their bodies at the end of cremation. The Bagmati River purifies the people spiritually."

But in the aftermath of the April 25, 2015 earthquake, thousands of families brought their dead here for traditional cleansing and cremation. But a cremation requires 300-500kg of wood and has led to massive deforestation in the Katmandu area as well as air pollution. A 2009 BBC article described the installation of an electric furnace, but I do not know if was ever put into operation.
Before and during a cremation, family members gather along the river with food offerings. Rice is put in boats made of woven leaves and floated down the river.
These bright powders are used in the ceremonies, but I am not sure exactly how.
Monkeys wander around the grounds. I suppose they are skilled at stealing food scraps.
Vendors sell garlands of flowers, coconuts, and other supplies.
The architecture at Pashupatinath has evolved and been rebuilt over 400 years. According to Wikipedia, the original 5th century temple was largely destroyed by Islamic invaders in the 14th century. The subsequent temple was consumed by termites and then rebuilt by King Bhupatindra Malla ain the 17th century.
 The stonework and carving is magnificent, and some of it reminds me of carving in Ankor (Cambodia).

Pashupatinath survived the 2015 earthquake largely intact, but has been witness to immense sorrow among the grieving families who brought their dead her to this sacred site.

Photographs taken with an Olympus E330 digital camera.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Royal City, Bhaktapur, Nepal

On April 25, 2015, at 06:11:26 (UTC), central Nepal was struck by a earthquake of Magnitude 7.8, about 34 km ESE of the town of Lamjung. From the U.S. Geological Survey:

Tectonic Summary

The April 25, 2015 M 7.8 Nepal earthquake occurred as the result of thrust faulting on or near the main frontal thrust between the subducting India plate and the overriding Eurasia plate to the north. At the location of this earthquake, approximately 80 km to the northwest of the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu, the India plate is converging with Eurasia at a rate of 45 mm/yr towards the north-northeast, driving the uplift of the Himalayan mountain range. The preliminary location, size and focal mechanism of the April 25 earthquake are consistent with its occurrence on the main subduction thrust interface between the India and Eurasia plates.
Kathmandu has suffered devastating damage and at least 4000 deaths have been recorded around the country as of the writing of this post. In Kathmandu, the part of  the city known as Bhaktapur suffered damage to many historic buildings. I will post some photographs from a 2007 visit to Kathmandu in memory of the many kind and friendly people I met on that trip.

According to Wikipedia, Bhaktapur (Nepali: भक्तपुर Bhaktapur) is in the east end of the Kathmandu valley. Historically, it was on the trade route between Tibet and India, which contributed to the town's wealth and cultural achievements. It was the largest of the three Newa kingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley, and was the capital of Nepal during the second half of the 15th century.

The city is known for its monuments and architectural heritage, appreciated by both local schoolgirls and dorky western tourists. This may be the Vatsala Durga temple.

Bhaktapur was also well known for its ceramic industry, with clay coming from pits and deposits in the valley.
Puppets of great complexity are carved and painted here.
In October, we saw the rice being dried on rooftops and platforms. This is a common sight throughout Nepal.
 The scene from a rooftop restaurant.
This is (or was) a rewarding place for urban photography. I hope the Nepalis can restore the historic building with time and hard work.

Photographs taken with an Olympus E-330 digital camera.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Abandoned Lock Business, Pascagoula Street, Jackson

Pascagoula Street runs east-west through downtown Jackson, passing south of the old King Edward Hotel and south of the Union Station. I was not around here decades ago, but I assume this was a busy commercial and industrial zone, with the nearby Union Station serving as a hub for commercial travelers and the rail lines providing freight service.
The area is quiet now. Empty parking lots and concrete pads attest to how much has been lost. This sign for the Jackson Safe & Lock Co. has a 1940s or 1950s look.
Vagrants have pried back some of the fencing and, I assume, stay in the building. I took the interior picture by placing my camera on a window ledge and using a remote electric release.
This is a 2001 Kodachrome slide from the parking lot just west of the old lock company (I can't recall if it was operating then). The King Edward was a deserted shell then and had been empty for almost 35 years. The good news is that a partnership coordinated by Historic Restoration Inc. of New Orleans rebuilt the King Edward and the grand old hotel reopened in 2009.
A few blocks south at West South Street is an old warehouse, probably typical in this area in the early-20th century. A tattoo shop occupies the ground floor. It seems an effective way to reuse a historic commercial space.

The 2001 Kodachrome was taken with a Leica M3 camera with 50mm f/2.8 Elmar lens, tripod-mounted.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Abandoned Fuel Terminal in Vicksburg

Just below Washington Street at 600 Depot Street is an abandoned fuel oil distributor. The yellow pages show this this was once Moak Petroleum Products , Inc., but I do not know dates of operation or who owns the site now. The gate is open and you can walk right in. The grounds reek of gasoline or solvent. Some tank or pipe is leaking. I wonder if the place would ignite?
This is the scene looking east. Washington Street is up on the bluff.
Looking north,you see the former Mississippi Hardware in the distance (now closed and subject of a future post).
The shed in the first picture became a dumping ground for records and files from the company. I saw liquor bottles, so vagrants are using the building. The roof looks intact, so it is dry on a wet night, a good place for a homeless person, except for the fumes.
This building is secure and un-vandalized.
The pumps are the old-fashioned type with rotating numbers rather than modern LCD displays. I did not see ethanol stickers. (Editorial note: ethanol - another stupid politically-mandated mess that did not save energy nor make us energy-independent, and had serious and damaging environmental consequences. Also, it ruins older cars.)

Photographs taken with a tripod-mounted FujiFilm X-E1 digital camera, raw files processed with PhotoNinja software to convert to black and white.