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Alternate Title: Ruins of the American Empire


There’s a very interesting blog on the website, Sweet Juniper called Feral Houses. It is, in essence, a visual sociology on social decay. The images are those of houses and buildings “reverting to the wild.” As is true with feral animals, these are erstwhile domestic dwellings once cared for and loved by their owners, but abandoned to the elements. These houses tell the story of decay, but not just their own decay. Tangled in the reaching roots and crawling vines is a buried story of personal decay—the human story of American families turning their backs on beloved homes. Every story of abandonment is a tragedy of sorts, a tale of personal loss. What stories might the walls of these sad homes tell? Tears? Desperation? Anger? Surrender?

Crumbling homes are also the manifestation of another tale. It’s a grander tragedy in which a society turns its back on the people. Working people turned away from their jobs. A rigged banking system. Corrupt and/or incompetent government. Corporate greed. Failed finance schemes.

When we look at these houses, we should see them as they once were. We should see the fresh faced groom carrying his bride over the threshold. Children once played on the lawns, and lovers once stole kisses on the porches. There were nurseries for kicking babies, and rooms where ailing loved ones whispered their final good-byes. In the back yards were gardens and swing sets and graduation pictures. Do you see the ghosts of what used to be?

Once upon a time, the ruins below were vibrant life, human life and social life. Now what’s left of them are quaint tourist attractions and historical curiosities. What sites will attract future tourists, archeologists and historians?

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