My recent search of the web, landed me at the Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital.Sadly, it might be in danger of being demolished. I heard about this place from a friend, and I have to check it out before it is lost forever. This would be a great place to convert into a haunted house or some type of attraction, but that is a topic for a different day. Upon finding this article about abandon places, I stumbled across a site that you could spend hours browsing through. There is an abundance of interesting photos and insightful write ups. The site is called Vacant NJ and it is run by a free spirit, Justin. I definitely want to visit some of these abandon places, among others because they tell a story no website can convey. Here are some of the questions I asked Justin about his Vacant New Jersey website. Enjoy!
1. What made you start this VacantNewJersey.com site?
Everyone has interests, thus we all act on our interests. If you like hiking than you walk, if you like underwater knitting, than you learn to hold your breath. I happen to like exploring and so I explore. Sometimes I’ll venture into ruins or maybe I’ll go get lost in the woods, perhaps next wander around a city to admire the infrastructure. What makes humans interesting are our interests, so it’s only natural to want to share with others our individual fascinations. For me this was easily established by creating a public website, indexable and searchable for anyone looking for similar interests. Often humans think they’re alone or totally unique in and of their personal interests, but we’re not. Life, the Internet, it’s full of bizarre shit and that’s because humans are strange animals, but not so unique that a community can’t be formed for seemingly anything.
2. Do you have a certain thought process of visiting these places or just anything abandon you’d check out?
My mind, thoughts, musings, all tend to gravitate toward an internal craving, a hunger for adventure. Many of the places I seek and explore tend to be abandoned, but ruins are just an appetizer on the menu. I’m drawn to anywhere devoid of the everyday human/societal element. I desire to experience the unknown, see for myself what those in authority say I can’t. If my mind is a train, it has long since derailed, yet still traveling full speed along a now warped track of curiosity, meandering through an otherwise mundane and monotonous society.
3. Any one place you have been stand out the most and why?
There is this one abandoned hospital I find myself going back to over and over again. If Starbucks was an abandoned asylum than I suppose that’s why I keep going back. Not so much for the coffee nor the free wi-fi, but because it is local and somewhere unique to shoot the shit and feel free.
4. Do you try to get permission to check out these places or just try not to get caught?
I find obtaining permission generally tends to dilute an otherwise illicit adventure or opportunity into becoming and feeling more like a tour. While tours can be nice, relaxed, informative, and sometimes even have free wine, I’m not in the market to listen to some lady spiel for 40 minuets about the historic toilet where George Washington pinched off his first presidential dump. I’d rather sneak in through the back window and check out the commode on my own terms, perhaps saving myself a few bucks in the end too. The potential of getting caught is part of the thrill of adventure. No one gets kicked out from a tour until they cross over the velvet rope to stick their chewing gum on Mona Lisa. In reality there exists nothing stopping you from crossing over the rope to gain a greater more personal experience, so why assume to stand behind the barrier to begin with?
5. Is there a place you would like to explore but had trouble getting into, whether security or to dangerous?
I tend to be more interested with locations that require a bit of additional effort to access, whether that be due to security or natural obstacles. I find such impediments tend to add to the overall thrill and experience. But it is also wise to weigh the risk versus reward factor. It’s probably not worth getting caught doing any of this silly adventure stuff for fun, but you’re probably not going to get caught you convince yourself, thus you set forth, you explore, and you don’t get caught this time. You reward yourself with copious amounts of Taco Bell afterward. It’s a vicious, addictive circle, a constant nonsensical game of raising the bar to new risky heights, at which any miss and fall will be lethal, but I suppose such an grim outcome is easier than two broken legs and a punctured lung. Danger is always what you make of it and security is an act for performing arts majors.
6. Is there some place in NJ or around the US you’ve researched but haven’t been, that is on your list?
There are numerous places I’d like to one day experience but I either haven’t discovered them yet or they exist as food for thought while day-dreaming at work. I don’t ascribe to a physical written list because a list is too much work and assumes consecutive logical sequence. There is no rationale nor priority assigned to the locations I find myself. Instead I have a mental pile of places I ponder and imagine to explore, sometimes they become a reality. I don’t often research places too thoroughly either, as I’m not driven by historical facts or accounts. I like to experience a location for what it’s worth at the time I’m there. I appreciate all the adventures I’ve been on, each exist as its own individual story in my hardcover bound mind.
7. Do you still explore as much as when you first started this site?
I think so, but I was never able to afford to hire a statistician to analyze such metrics, so I don’t know for sure. Sometimes I get pissed that I explore, so I’ll take a break for a week or two, but then I’ll get bored of looking at funny cat pictures on the Internet, so I’ll find myself on an adventure again. Exploring is like quitting cigarettes, everyone who smokes wants to quit, but quitters never win. You can’t stop, the urge is too strong, the only difference is exploring might be worth any long term health problems and shouldn’t turn your teeth yellow, so long as you’re not drinking the water in that sewer tunnel.
8. Ever see anything strange or unexplainable while at these places?
Plenty, although much of these “unexplainables” tend to lie with the human realm, specifically some of the people I’ve stumbled across along the journey. I don’t believe in ghosts, or ghouls, or goblins, or demonic entities, or Jesus, or Santa Claus, not because I can’t prove of them but because I’ve never experienced first hand any of these mythical creatures. Along my adventures I’ve met drug addicts, scrapers, creepers, fathers, mothers, teenagers, even a grandmother, but all theses strangers are far more real than any Casper the Ghost, they’re human; they’re unpredictable, scary, nice, bizarre, questionable, caring, crazy, friends, enemies, and I certainly can’t explain any single one of them, but such is the problem with humans I suppose.
9. What is your favorite scary movie? and Do you have a favorite Halloween costume?
Within the cinematic world I’ve found myself drawn to films which cross horror with suspense, surprise, and reality (or at least realistic fiction) but spare the crazy gore and torture scenes leaving that for the mind to ponder. There have been so many scary movies I’ve watched over the years between the creases of my fingers as my hands cover my eyes. I hate being scared, but yet I’m drawn to it. The unknown is of itself scary because there is nothing discovered yet to find comfort in. I think this parallels with why I explore and am drawn to adventure. It’s the thrill of the unknown, the ability to test as well as find your own fears, make your own discoveries, and come to the realization that much of what you feared was all in your mind. If a nightmare is just a dream than it’s okay to uncover your eyes and see once in a while. What’s super fascinating is when what you see winds up being more frighting than any bad dream. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is a great film. I don’t have a favorite costume.
Check out his site by clicking the pic below. More amazing photos and write ups.