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Urban Exploration with Those Drones

Birmingham, Alabama March 2017

· urbex

Much of my creative drone work centers around exploring forgotten and abandoned places. Recently I traveled to Birmingham, Alabama and I found the "Magic City" to be just that.

Sloss Furnaces

Birmingham is steeped in history, and in many places, frozen history, just beginning to thaw.

A recent jaunt to the Magic City, Birmingham Alabama revealed a post-industrial city on the rise, but with still so far to go. This particular point in the city history allowed me to see the city in a new light, while also savoring an amazing, inspiring time capsule.

Sloss Furnaces

There is something about the feeling of a city built on iron. Visiting Sloss Furnaces is the best place to understand the genesis of the city. Pig iron was the staple of its time.

It is almost as if there is a lingering magnetic current that underpins the energy of the city - binding it to itself and the people. Buildings seems a little heavier. The ghosts of the past seem able to remain moored to the old houses and factories. Nothing has come to disturb so much of this city, other than the slow grind of sheer time.

 

Norwood is a neighborhood of beautiful blight that is ready to rise.

Birmingham's Norwood neighborhood is as devastating as it is inspiring. Countless abandoned mansions that seem to want to tell you stories, but don't have the wind to speak. It is a true gem that was a casualty of the Interstate system dividing it from the city core, and the mid-century trend to the suburbs leaving it high and dry. Here is one house, of so many, screaming with possibility. I filmed it and imagined the sound of its prior life.

Shot with the DJI Mavic

A City Known for fighting the good fight

The history is also felt in the Civil Rights history of a storied place. There is something powerful about being in a city that is known for disobeying unjust laws for the better of all.

“In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be...
This is the inter-related structure of reality.”
Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

Hidden in plain sight

All roads out of town from the city center become slowly more and more time capsules of suburban shopping left for dead. Entire shopping centers, buildings and homes trail off into a void. Next to busy streets, these areas just sit.

Shot with the DJI Mavic

Continue out of town into the forgotten sprawl and further, into rural Alabama, and you will see stunning progress of the past that has been abandoned - as if in one day entire businesses just collapsed.

Get 45 minutes out of town and find Bremen, Alabama where the abandoned and decaying Pine Tree Trail Resort still stands. A waterfront time share for vacationers and campers that now looks like a movie set for the post-apocalypse.

Shot with the DJI Inspire 2

I find drones to be the perfect tool to reveal the magic of a place like Birmingham. These sites, when seen from a new vantage point, yield a new perspective - hopefully with a sense of renewed possibility. The city is moving forward, and anything I can contribute to inspire in any small part toward capturing its history is so worth it.

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