There’s something hauntingly beautiful about an abandoned building. Who lived, died or made memories there? What pivotal historical event transpired within those hallowed walls? When one gets past the allure and mysticism, the sinking feeling of reality sets in. Why was this building abandoned? Why wasn’t it used for another purpose? As it now stands, it is an environmental hazard, a social eyesore, an urban blight. It is a place for misfits to aggregate, to destroy their minds and to poison the beautiful earth with their deadly toxins. In short, these buildings are now just glorified crack houses.
According to this site, the average school building in America is 42 years old. This means that our average young American is exposed every single day to asbestos, faulty wiring, fire hazards, cancer-inducing chemicals and other environmental hazards.
Most schools, if you do your math, were erected during the baby boomers’ era. Understandably, there was a greater need for schools then. America was doing well and the economy was strong. People were having families and the future looked bright. It was this generation that also created the stereotypical and iconic ‘American Dream.’ The over-zealous attainment of ‘more and more’ was alive and well, like a parasitic demon.
The oldest schools are in the Northeast part of the U.S.; the newest schools can be found in the Western and Southwestern parts of the country. It is estimated that when a school is 20-30 years old, a great deal of repair and even replacement of standard building construction is necessary. Think about this in terms of real estate. Would you want to live in a 30-year-old home with much more wear and tear on it?
Schools are highly abused by their occupants, more so than most buildings. Now, consider a school that is roughly 30 to 40 years old (the age of at least half of the American schools). A school at this point is pretty dilapidated. It has had to be rebuilt and reconstructed many times over in its elderly age. The electrical and roof equipment should not be original, but replaced with newer equipment. However, this is simply not the case with many Americans schools. Once a school is older than this, they are often abandoned. That’s what you see here.
What’s worse – our children going to school in a building that is in shambles or polluting the earth with these tattered carcasses? Why are these buildings not reused before they get to this point in urban blight? Why aren’t they simply not torn down? Why can’t we recycle some of the good parts of these buildings – using those materials to rebuild community centers and homes for the needy?
Amazingly, a whopping 73% of public schools were built before 1969. Only 10% of public schools were built after 1985. This is unconscionable! One can find that the smaller and more urban a school is, the older it will likely be. Roughly, these school are 50 years old. (Please refer to the age of the school and its condition in paragraph 6). Now that the baby boomers are old, these buildings serve no purpose….or do they?
What if our government took these very same buildings – the ones that are salvageable anyway, and made them into retirement places and community centers for the very same generation that bore the need for such a blight? What if we could give back to the next generation, the grandchildren of the baby boomers, and made safe havens from abuse, violence and juvenile delinquency?
The oldest schools, as mentioned before, are inhabited by the poorest children who often come from broken homes, and over 50% of the school’s students earns a free lunch, likely the only meal they receive during the day. We, as Americans in general, complain about higher taxes, but what do we think will happen to the future of these children? They will be a burden on taxpayers when they end up in jail or homeless too.
As mesmerizing as these pictures may be, they beg an elementary question.If this is our beginning, our starting point in life, where does this lead us and what will our end be like?