Inside Philadelphia’s Neglected and Abandoned Row Houses

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Willie and Rose, South 47th Street, West Philadelphia, 2008.

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Brenda, 2008.

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19th and Seybert no.4, 2008.

For Abandoned, Philadelphia-based photographer Jeffrey Stockbridge chronicles the city’s forgotten houses, darkened and gutted structures that have fallen into disrepair in the face of poverty, relocations, and the deaths of their former inhabitants.

The abandoned row houses first caught Stockbridge’s eye when he was an undergraduate at Drexel University; though he moved several times, forsaken homes became a common thread throughout the various communities. During his time as a student, he explains, the number of deserted homes in the city stood at an estimated forty thousand. The photographer notes that he experiences no difficulty finding such locations, citing broken or empty windows, padlocked doors, and errant trees as the tell-tale signs of an abandoned homestead.

Through documenting the houses themselves, Stockbridge became acquainted with the surrounding communities and got to know many of their residents, individuals who ranged from single mothers to struggling homeowners. Some faced an uphill battle against drug addiction or turned to prostitution in times of desperation, and others made temporary homes within the neglected houses. All endured as best they could.

With the past decades, explains the artist, factory jobs have been moved out of the country and drugs have ravaged the streets, leaving cities around America in a similar situation. In these bleak interiors, however, Stockbridge finds traces of those elusive things that tie us all together, regardless of our backgrounds or present circumstances: the family photo, the child’s bedroom. Light streams in through the cracks in the foundation. The photographer always shows his images to his subjects, explaining “I hope that people see that this is just life. That hope and beauty run parallel with despair.”

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17th and Jefferson, 2008.

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45th and Westminster Street, no.2 2008.

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45th and Westminster Street no.1, 2008.

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JB, 2008.

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43rd and Haverford no.4, 2008.

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31st and Berks no.2, 2008.

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43rd and Haverford no.3, 2008.

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Val, 2008.

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10th and Vine, 2008.

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32nd and Ridge no.4, 2008.

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19th and Seybert no.2, 2008.

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Millie, 2008.

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Joy, 2008.

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32nd and Ridge no.1, 2008.

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Rob, 2008.

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Cici, 2008.

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Dino, 2008.

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John, 2008.

All images © Jeffrey Stockbridge

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