Pennsylvania-based photographer Matthew Christopher first came upon his interest in chipped and corroded buildings while documenting the decline of the American hospital system. Soon enough, his body of work, which encompasses derelict cathedrals, schools, factories (including the above, which belonged to Hollely Bros. Clothing), and theaters, told a different story, one of a country's sagging industrial sector and the decomposition of its social institutions, public-serving spaces "that once were the pride of our country [and] now lie in ruins," Christopher writes. Like the work of his photographer/urban explorer comrades, Christopher's work reads as a grim story of a nation's decline, but, perhaps more than that, his "Abandoned America" series is a jab at the bland, mass-produced spaces that claim the plots where old buildings once reigned.
? Church of the Assumption in Philadelphia. Christopher writes that his work is all "a eulogy for the lost ways of life [the buildings] represent, a statement of their emotional, spiritual, and metaphoric relevance to our everyday lives, and a sense of the visceral experience of entering a parallel universe of silence, rust, and peeling paint."
? An abandoned hotel in an unknown city. "Valuable pieces of our common past are falling to the wrecking ball every year," he writes. "While I love archaeology, I am dismayed at the prevailing blindness in scholastic circles that prizes a handful of nails or pottery fragments from an early colonial settlement but ignores sites that are still above ground and critical to preserving the accounts of accomplishments and missteps over the last century."