I Love a Good House

If my life had gone differently in my earlier years I think I would have become an architect. I love buildings and all the trimmings. I’m still trying to teach myself all the right names for the parts of buildings. I go out and take photos of old buildings, mainly derelict farm houses here in Ontario. I also like going to the main street of a small town or city and looking up. That’s where you see the fancy parts of old stores, homes and banks. Most of the old parts below have been renovated away.

Maybe I never would have been a great architect. I like the old stuff too much to make the modern looking type of building with more right angles than curves and more sensible and practical elements than elegant columns, gargoyles and gingerbread trim. It would be hard to design something just to stand there rather than to pose there.

I am still very attracted to anything building/ house related. Art with houses draws my eye. Even fiction about a house stops me long enough to at least skim it. The old woman living in a shoe caught my imagination from a young age. How did she live in that shoe? Did she use the laces to cool the house off in winter and then tie them up tight again to keep warm in winter? How did she put a roof on the shoe, was the sock still around to be stuffed over head? Did she make the eyelets for the laces into windows? Did she put the door back at the heel where it would have been strong but had that higher step down or somewhere else? So many questions. Living in a shoe didn’t seem that appealing all things considered.

I’d rather live in a castle, except I’d like a much smaller and cosier version of a castle than a real castle. A castle like Dr. Who’s Tardis, bigger on the inside than the outside could work well. Like the Tardis, no one ever seems to need to clean it either.

I have drawn my perfect house. It was harder to pick the location than the decide on what I wanted inside the house. But the harder part still was to limit myself to less rather than more when it comes to how the outside of the house will look. There are so many great old things that could be added. Small like old iron doorknobs to huge like a dragon sculpture taking up a large part of the garden.

I enjoy drawing unusual houses. I’ve drawn the shoe house. I’ve drawn a house made in a teacup. I’ve drawn a plan for how very small people would live in the standard sized world. I’ve drawn magical houses for elves, fairies and of course dragons too.

There is something special about a house, any building really. People make them, plan them, live and work in them. Keep them. Repair them. It’s saddest of all when a place is abandoned and left to the elements. There is a mystery to the abandoned places. Something time and people forgot. I never feel they are creepy or haunted. just sad and yet still dignified and majestic in some way. We give a house a power by it’s creation and everything we put into it beyond that point. You can’t just lose that when the house is empty. It’s there, right in the very design.

I think I would have been an amazing architect.

Found Amazing Toronto Map in an Etsy Shop

I found this map for sale in an Etsy shop, civicatlas. With shipping, it would cost over $50 to have a print copy. Sure, it would be a nice size but more than I can spend. If you have the resources I recommend getting it for any Toronto history explorers. As you can see, there are excellent images of old architecture, likely gone or very different looking now.

To see more of it myself, I searched online and found it Historical Maps of Toronto, with a link to the source for the full map at the University of Toronto. Here are screenshots, to give you a preview. I would like to have this covering an entire wall of my house. But, I will settle for keeping it as wallpaper for my desktop computer. Meanwhile, I did download the full file and I can see what it would cost to get it printed. Possibly a local business where the photographer reprints and fixes old photographs, might be just the place.

Killing Art for Politics

Demolishing art (and architecture) bothers me. The history does not go away, but the art does. Losing art and architecture due to changing politics is not a good thing.

How will people in the future understand the past if it is all whitewashed?

In a letter to the Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers, the signatories advocate for the removal of monuments to Christopher Columbus, J. Marion Sims, and Teddy Roosevelt.

Source: Over 120 Prominent Artists and Scholars Call on NYC to Take Down Racist Monuments

The Red Well with Warnings of Ghosts and Witches

Somewhere in Scotland. What an interesting little place. Likely the tales of ghosts and witches were based on suspicion/ fear and just trying to keep people from getting hurt in there. Now it’s locked. What a sad, and yet sensible, ending.

There must have been (or still are) other places like this. Is it even a well? Seems an odd structure to use for water, wouldn’t it get stagnant without some sunlight and air flow?

Below is the Red Well, said to date from Roman times, also said to be haunted by an old lady ghost and to be aligned for sunrise sunbeams on the summer solstice. I lived in Whitehills for a short time as a child and remember the beehive shaped building being called ‘the witch’s hoosie’ and kids shutting each other in there for ‘fun’. It’s now locked.

Source: going coastal – Ailish Sinclair

A Tribute to Jeff Chapman: #RIPNinjalicious

Jeff Chapman (1973 – 2005) #RIPNinjalicious

Jeff Chapman was a Canadian urban explorer, known as Ninjalicious. Jeff published Access All Areas and the founder of Infiltration, zines and website.

jeffinfiltration

“It’s the thrill of discovery that fascinates me. Yes, I know I’m not the first person there, but I can honestly say I found it and I earned the experience for myself. After exploring for a while, you get a wonderful feeling that you’re “in on” the secret workings of cities. You know what’s under your feet and what’s behind the closed doors and what the city looks like from the highest office towers, while almost everyone around you only ever looks at the public areas and never truly pays attention to urban structures unless they’ve paid admission to take a look.” – Jeff Chapman/ Ninjalicious

Source: Interview at Philadelphia City Paper with Neil Gladstone (1998?)

ninjaliciousThis month, August 2015, marks ten years since Jeff Chapman passed away. I thought someone should post in his honour. I never met him personally. I did email with him, twice. I met his wife, Liz, at a Broken Pencil Zine Festival in Toronto.

I attended the Festival to buy Access All Areas: A User’s Guide to the Art of Urban Exploration, see some of Jeff’s (and other publishers) zines and take a look at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto. I was just beginning to explore with a digital camera then. Before that I just didn’t know what I was doing had a name (and film was expensive!).

jeffchapman

A tribute can still be found at the Toronto Architectural Conservancy 

Jeff Chapman (September 19, 1973 – August 23, 2005), better known by the pseudonym Ninjalicious, was a Toronto-based urban explorer, fountaineer, writer and founder of the urban exploration zine Infiltration: the zine about going places you’re not supposed to go. He was also a prominent author and editor for YIP magazine,as well as its website, Yip.org.
Chapman attended York University in the early 1990s and later studied book and magazine publishing at Centennial College. He went on to serve as Editor at History Magazine and as Director of the Toronto Architectural Conservancy board.

Chapman died of cholangiocarcinoma on Tuesday, August 23, 2005 — three years after a successful liver transplant at Toronto General Hospital (a location he loved to explore). He was 31 years old.

Source: Wikipedia: Ninjalicious

Toronto’s own late Jeff Chapman (a.k.a. “Ninjalicious”) published his first printed issue of Infiltration, “The zine about going places you’re not supposed to go,” in 1996. Though Toronto may not live in the imagination of people around the world, Chapman made this city’s sewers famous for his global readers. His work lives on in Access all Areas, his book published just before his death to cancer in 2005, and at infiltration.org.

Source: Shawn Micallef: Getting to know Toronto’s sewers

Under the alias Ninjalicious is where Jeff made his biggest mark. In his early twenties he spent long periods of time in the hospital battling various diseases. Often bored, he and his IV pole would go exploring the hospital, investigating the basement, peaking behind doors, looking for interesting rooms and equipment. It was here his love for the under explored side of buildings developed, and upon returning to health he created Infiltration – the zine about going places you’re not supposed to go.

Infiltration has had a profound influence on urban exploration in Toronto and around the world, as evidenced by the hundreds of tributes left for him in the Urban Exploration Resource forum. Ninjalicious had a strong code of ethics which he promoted, including no stealing or vandalizing while exploring. Issue 1, all about Ninj’s beloved Royal York Hotel, was published in 1996, and the zine was continually published throughout the years ending most recently with Issue 25: Military Leftovers.

Source: Sean Lerner: Torontoist: Death of a Ninja

About ten years ago I was in a Toronto bookshop and found a copy of Infiltration. Subtitled “the zine about going places you’re not supposed to go”, it was devoted to the escapades of the author, Jeff Chapman — or “Ninjalicious”, to use his nom de plume — as he explored the many off-limits areas in famous Toronto buildings such as the Royal York hotel, CN Tower, or St. Mike’s Hospital. In each issue, Chapman would pick a new target and infiltrate it — roaming curiously around, finding hilarious secrets, then describing it with effervescently witty delight. Chapman had the best prose of any zine author I’ve read anywhere. Many zinesters are clever, of course, but Chapman wrote with a 19th-century literary journalist’s attention to detail; nothing escaped his notice, from the relative fluffiness of the towels in executive lounges to the color of the rust pools in a mysterious, hangar-sized room buried below Toronto’s subway system.

Source: Clive Thompson: Collision Detection: R.I.P. “Ninjalicious” — the founder of urban exploration

infiltrationThe zine about going places you’re not supposed to go, like tunnels, abandoned buildings, rooftops, hotel pools and more.

Source: Infiltration

See also:

cancon
what is it that attracts you to going where you’re not suppposed to go?

Ninjalicious
Healthy human curiousity about the workings of the world I live in, of course. I mean, it’s free, it’s fun and it hurts no one. A harder-to-answer question would be: why doesn’t everyone?

cancon
what are the tools of your trade?

Ninjalicious
Usually I travel very lightly, with a pen, paper, a Swiss army knife, a camera and a flashlight. That’s about all the equipment I need to have a good time in 90% of the places I visit. I take along more specialized equipment — such as rubber boots or various props — for specific targets.

Source: Cancon Interview with James Hörner

Ruins in New York

As seen on a post in Design Corner: One misty morning while in New York City, take a cab uptown to West 64th Street in Manhattan. When you reach the Riverside park, observe a dark undulating skeleton sticking out of the Hudson River. The twisted metallic construction that stimulates comparisons with Frank Gehry’s architecture has been there since 37 years ago. Before Pier D was consumed by raging fire in 1971, it was a part of the New York Central Railroad Yard. Today Pier D is the kind of design form that quite literally follows the function – chronologically leaving its original practicalities behind in the smoke of Manhattan’s industrial past. Back then, Pier D’s utility was to be used as a deck for longshoremen to unload bulk cargo. Now Pier D is all about emotional significance – it serves no purpose other than the aesthetic one. However, the official confirmation of the site’s new aesthetic status was issued no earlier than in 2003 – through a timely gesture of Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner who has been known for his protective stances vis-à-vis the city’s natural and historic beauty. He was called on the phone one day to be put on notice that a crane had begun dismantling the pier – according to approved plans deliberated and finalized in Benepe’s absence. The commissioner rushed to the site and ordered to stop the demolition.Accidental landscape design… In the opinion of a nearby dweller, since the arrival of Trump Place “everything looks so new here, […] we need a reminder of what it was like 80 years ago.”

Abandoned Art

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” – Leonardo da Vinci

I really like this quote. Both the art aspect and as related to photographing the abandoned houses. They do have a feeling of being unfinished, or in the stages of un-evolving, becoming a different kind of art than architecture.

WebUrbanist

WebUrbanist – blog collective writers are interested in all things urban – from urban design to subversive art and strange architecture. We scour the net to find neat new stuff then boil that information down and pack it into an article with relevant images and links, as exhaustive as we can manage on a single subject area. Our team is comprised of web designers, bloggers, architects and other curious urbanists.

Old Buildings Along Queen





These were around the Queen and Broadview area too. I like the big half circle windows on some of them.

I was in the bookstore in the Eatons Centre and came across a beat up book about architecture. It was geared for the hobbyist who wanted to learn the proper terms for structures and styles. I would have liked to get that book but, just not the right time to be buying more books. At least the photos are free.