LOCATION – Sunset Park Brooklyn,NY

Aaron and I met while working at an outdoor advertising agency, we were both photographers. Are main amount of work was focused on taking proof of performance shots of all of our media. We had to shoot everything that we owned that was currently running advertisement. This included sides of busses, phone kiosks, ads on Long Island Rail Road, ads on Metro North Rail Road and banners. We also had to occasionally shoot billboards in the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn.

Whenever we made the trip to shoot the billboards in Brooklyn we would always pass by a set of warehouse buildings that were made into artist lofts. This huge buildings stood next to each other and were all practically identical and could not be missed. At the top of each building stood water towers which seems to be the defining characteristics of the all of them. We always thought about trying to visit the buildings but never did until recently.

We hopped on the train and after a short time we were in Sunset Park Brooklyn. We walked to the lofts wondering how we would be able to get to the rooftops. We acted as normal as possible and scoped out the area to look for possible entrances. Shortly it dawned on us that practically every door was unlocked and it was just a matter of which we would like to choose.

We walked to the first building…walked to the first door…entered the building…used the elevator…and walked directly on too the roof.

In a way I wish it would have been more difficult. I wish there would have been window we had to work our way in too, or maybe a fence that had to be climbed. It seems as of late that to enter these buildings all it takes is walk through the front and exit in the back. I don’t think I should complain as just feel blessed that all I have to worry about is my photography.

Back to the story….

We begin to settle down from the astonishment of how easy it was to get to the rooftop. We each separate and begin to look for what photos we each want to take. Aaron does he same routine of setting up the tripod and scoping out a perfect shot. While I on the other hand run wild and shoot everything from the hip completely hand held.

Our main point of interest on these rooftops were the defining water towers. They seemed to show a progress of decay with the closest being almost complete while the farthest almost completely torn down. In a way it was a more depressing sprint advertisement (please correct me if I got the brand wrong).

Here a few photos…

After we got done with our interest in the water towers we noticed how amazing the views was….here are a few photos…

After shooting we took a second to just enjoy the view and take a look around Sunset Park from the roof. As we were looking we found another roof off in the distance that looked interesting. It was only a few blocks from where we were so we packed our gear and left towards our new destination.

As we got closer to the building the area got sketchier.  The streets became dirtier. The smell in the air become more thick and pungent. We were entering a shipping yard and I never did figure out what I was smelling. It was the end of the day and there were very few people around, but the people that were there noticed that we did not fit in. We pushed on as if we belonged there and arrived at the building we were interested in.

Aaron approached a door….turned the knob….opened the door….and we were in.

BOTTOM LINE! The building was creepy! The air was cold and wet. The hallways were dimly lit and dirty.

This building was not abandoned and was an active shipping warehouse. The work day was done so nobody was there when we entered. I was still afraid of encountering someone that would not want either of us there. We both proceeded with caution and made our way through the building.

Aaron and I looked up the stairwell and noticed that there were probably about 10 floors to the roof. We looked for an elevator and did not see one. We shrugged our shoulders and made our way to the top. Huffing and puffing…we finally arrived at the exit to the roof. Unlike the last building this door was not wide open inviting us to the roof. The door was shut and what looked like an alarm was constantly beeping acting as warning to us not to enter. We packed our bags in anticipation to charge down the steps incase an alarm was set, we looked at each other and I extended my arm and pushed the door open. There was no alarm. Or at least no alarm that we could hear. There was a symbol that lit up which showed that the door was open. We took our chances and entered the rooftop.

Here are a few photos of what we found…

We both climbed to the top of a water tower and decided to spend the rest of the day there. The water tower had a perfect view of the river and Manhattan. We took more photos and waited til sunset to get some night shots. The view was incredible and watching the sun slowly hide behind the river and turn the day into night made the entire trip worth every second.

Til next time….thanks for reading!


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

The way you shot the water towers they seem to be alive, figurative, human like. Nice, subtle colors and textures throughout these images also. That’s something not easily come by in the city. Love the motion shot of Aaron running up the stairs also. Lastly, with all the excitement of the “hunt” it’s nice you have the presence of mind and time to relax at the end and enjoy what’s around you. Be safe you guys.

Comment by Lifelong Artist

Re: Mission 4 – Sunset Park Rooftops

I am interested in your photo work of Sunset Park Rooftops. I’ve been Google image searching for photos of Sunset Park rooftops, hoping to make a match or a close approximation to that of a photo of my father (deceased) sitting on a roof (or overpass?) in what I believe is the Sunset Park area. The photo was taken during WWII ( 1942ish) when he tiled ships in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. I would be grateful if you would please be willing to look at the photo and give me any leads as to where it is or might be. Thank you.

Comment by Kevin Nolan

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