A few weeks ago, a bunch of my photographer buddies planned a trip to visit an old abandoned jail in Newark and asked if I was down to go. At first, I had no interest. I typically spend my weekends hiking or photographing some wild animals, actually, lately I've been spending all my time building this website/blog, so I haven't shot much. A few days prior, I purchased Nikon's best performing wide-zoom lens: Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8. I found an incredible deal and couldn't pass it up. Venturing to this jail kinda of sounded like the best place to test out this lens. I knew it was going to be super dark and very cramped inside, 14mm was perfect for the visit.
Two friends and I managed to arrive before everyone else that was driving up from Philly. I honestly, couldn't find this place. Abandoned buildings typically don't have addressed anymore. But, I was in downtown Newark, I'm sure a jail would stick out. Well, it did after driving past it four times. I drove right up to it and couldn't not believe my eyes. This place looked like something from a Stephen King movie. You could barely make out the building since it was covered with vines and trees growing out of it. No way in hell was I going into this place.
The jail was built by John Haviland for $30,000 in 1837! Haviland also created the well known Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. It was home to 300 prison cells. After many fires inside the prison, a new Essex County Jail was built. Since being declared as an abandoned structure in 1970, the town had many plans in the works to convert it into many things from a science and technology center to a small generating power station.
What makes this building abandoned? Sure, the city isn't using for it's original use, but it's far from building. It's home to many lifeforms, such as less fortunate humans, cats, plants and trees, asbestos and other chemical habitats, and so much more. I saw life all over the place. Of course it's not the first thing that comes to your mind, but it certainly is there!
This is not my typical blog post, however, I fell in love with the Old Essex County Jail. The ruggedness, toxic, dirty setting was just so interesting. Being that this old destroyed building was home to so much life, made it even more meaningful for me. The lighting was beyond perfect. All the images my friends produced, as well as Google, none were in black and white. This creepy jailhouse called for black and white, in my opinion. Maybe in the future I will re-edit this photos in color. Until then, if you head over to this location, please let me know your experiences.