Local Hidden Gem: The Albany Bulb

i got a new camera* for Christmas and wanted to take it out to see how it performed. i heard about the Albany Bulb (a disused landfill now part of the local park district) via an urban explorer group i am a part of, but they canceled a trip due to the ongoing squatter situation. yep, squatters. so i’ve kind of been afraid to visit, but decided i might as well give it a shot after reading that if you don’t bother them, they don’t bother you. and when i got there, i realized i have nothing to fear — there were people walking their dogs along the trails.

*for those who are curious, all of the photos are straight-out-of-camera JPEGs from a Sony RX100 II in automatic mode.

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There is a 2-hour parking lot right before where the trail starts at the eastern end of the bulb’s neck.

long story short, it was (and i guess still is) an almost lawless area where anything goes. there are indeed small shanty towns (but artistically done up?) and you’ll see lots of trash strewn about from the residents and visitors who don’t care for the environment, but it seems pretty much completely safe, at least during the day, with dog walkers and people fishing from the shoreline. ¬†you’ll pass tent cities and there’s an odd smell (not sure if it’s the fact that it used to be a landfill or if it’s the squatters, or maybe it’s just the bay), but you’ll be rewarded with views from the shore and lots of amazing street art and sculptures. the authorities are trying to evict the squatters which, while it will make things safer and more pleasant, will definitely make the place lose a lot of its character and art sources, so visit sooner rather than later. [related: totally reminds me of Copenhagen’s Christiania]

more pictures on flickr, but scroll down for some highlights.

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Fishing

the north side

on the north end of the bulb, there is what i suppose i could described as a sculpture garden.

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One of the most famous sculptures given the number of pictures of it.

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Yeah, some of the art is scary…

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Found art

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Knight Rider? You can see a squatter’s tent in the distance.

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Nearer, My God, To Thee

the middle

there is an “amphitheater”, says a sign — i guess for the squatters?

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Rock maze

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But do the bay views make up for some of it?

the south shore

on Google Maps, this is described as “Mad Mike’s Castle” — there’s a concrete walkway that leads up to a dilapidated building covered in graffiti and street art. I LOVE IT. the roof was safe for me to walk on and the building smelled of spray paint. (i have a feeling the layers of paint are probably as thick as the walls themselves.)

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The walkway leading to the castle.

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Castle looking towards the water, from the walkway.

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Castle from the water side.

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Inside the ground floor.

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The cone houses a spiral staircase. Looking down from the roof.

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