Breaking Camp

It was always obvious that people were living in the small patch of trees at Broadway and Church Street, near the Port of Albany. Driving past in the morning, you could make out tents and tarps and sometimes a bit of smoke from a cooking fire. Now and then you’d see clothes stung up to dry.

Not anymore.

This week, somebody — presumably the city — came in and cleared out the area. They didn’t do such a good job of cleaning up. If you walk through the site you can see bits and scraps of what was left behind by the people who lived there.

It reminded me a bit of the scene in “Ironweed” when a gang of thugs descend on a hobo camp to roust the squatters. No, people should not be living in the woods at the edge of town, but it made me sad that their little refuge was destroyed.

Think about what it would be like to live that way — and be thankful you know where you will spend the night.

Bedding

Lost Hat

Campsite

Fire Pit

Flickr slideshow.

3 responses to “Breaking Camp

  1. Great and poignant little photo essay . . . in my various Hidden in Suburbia adventures I’ve also found numerous camps in the woods around Latham, Cohoes and Watervliet, some more elaborate than others, some clearly inhabited by more than one person.

    You can distinguish them from the ones that partying teenagers leave by their lack of red or blue plastic beer cups . . . if substance abuse drives you into the woods, then you don’t need party cups for your booze. They fill me with the same sense of melancholy, and I’m always careful to make sure that I neither disturb anything nor leave a trail (photographic or physical) that could lead others to the same spot . . .

    When I worked in the South End, I actually used to walk by the little stand of trees on almost a daily basis, when the weather was nice. I loved that area. I don’t know if people are still homesteading/lofting in the old Greenbush Tape and Label warehouse complex, but that was a neat effort at urban reuse/renewal down there for a little while . . .

  2. I know the building is always busy. I met someone who lived in one of the lofts a couple of years ago, but I’m not sure if there’s still any residential use.

    I’d be really curious if the city did anything to inform those people that their woods were about to be chopped down — or if they just showed up one day with chainsaws.

  3. I have a sad hunch that the chainsaws were probably carried quietly to the perimeter of the woods, and then fired up en masse for maximum shock and terror . . .

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