There are many sides to New York City, from its iconic landmarks and must-see tourist hot spots to the hidden, hyper-local spots huddled throughout the five boroughs. Inspired by its lesser-seen spaces, one photographer has started a new project that explores dark, abandoned sites across the city.

Travel News - Abandoned NY
An overgrown gun placement at Fort Wadsworth, located along the high grounds of The Narrows, it is one of the oldest military sites in the USA.

Originally from Bournemouth in England, Paul Brake originally travelled to New York in 1996 for a short trip. After meeting his future wife, he ended up staying there. With an interest in photography and a whole new world open to him, Paul naturally began documenting the city in different ways. It wasn’t until recently however that he got the idea to explore the more hidden parts, focusing his lens on derelict and abandoned spaces. “The inspiration came out of a desire to move away from the usual photos you see online. Majestic images of towering buildings, iconic captures of historic landscapes, bridges, skylines. I wanted something different, something darker,” he told Lonely Planet Travel News.

Travel News - Abondon NYC
The remains of the road going through the old Seaview Hospital where those suffering from tuberculosis were kept.

So far Paul has documented intriguing locations in Staten Island, including the Farm Colony, a former poor house on the edge of the borough’s greenbelt, a former military site, Seaview Hospital, a tuberculosis sanatorium, an abandoned house in Historic Richmond Town and Battery Weed, a fortification that looks out over New York Harbour. Other locations include the crypts beneath the basilica of Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral in Manhattan. Paul’s interests lie in discovering the history behind each location, learning how and why each one lies abandoned, and he plans to travel to the other four boroughs to explore similar locations.

Travel News - 01
Staten Island Farm Colony where the homeless were provided shelter in exchange for working on the farm.

When it comes to capturing such places, Paul said that he tries to approach it in interesting ways, using techniques that offer eye-catching results. “I consider myself an artist first before a photographer, so my photography represents a vision I want to present to the audience as opposed to an everyday look pulled out of a camera. This means that I utilize techniques such as infrared photography, or taking multiple images of the scene to maintain even exposure across the whole image,” he told Lonely Planet Travel News.

Travel News - 05
Prince's Bay beach in Staten Island.

More of Paul’s photography is available at his Instagram.

Explore related stories

Stephen Shore. U.S. 93, Wikieup, Arizona, December 14, 1976


Take a trip through 1970s America at MoMA's Stephen Shore retrospective

Nov 29, 2017 • 2 min read