When Everything Gets Left Behind

The New York Times recently posted an article about dying alone in New York City. Just a few days ago I photographed this house filled with the contents of its last owner. I have no information on why the house is abandoned or what happened to its last owner, and there could be any number of reasons why so many personal possessions were left behind. Even if the last occupant is still alive and now living in a nursing home or elsewhere, the financial burden of property maintenance and taxes, and the physical task of combing through and disposing of another person’s, even a loved one’s, belongings could be too heavy to carry, even for family. Although it does not appear that anything truly valuable, in terms of dollar value, is found here – likely those items would have been easily and quickly retrieved by offspring or relatives – all of the other accumulated items must have had some value to their owner, be it a favorite pair of shoes, or a nice shirt that was worn into town or to church, or a cute stuffed animal.

Finding filled-to-the-brim abandoned houses is not terribly uncommon – I’ve photographed several other such homes – but empty homes are a far more regular occurrence. I found this house to be especially photogenic. The rest of this post is left to the photographs, but please do read the New York Times article entitled “The Lonely Death of George Bell.”

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9 Responses to When Everything Gets Left Behind

  1. Rebecca Elise says:

    Great post. Also will read the article. Thanks Rob!

  2. Richard Cunningham says:

    I’ve often come across places like this and wondered the same.

  3. Robert Stava says:

    It is one of those strange, creepy and depressing things that happens. When my wife and I were house hunting years ago we looked at a few homes in Westchester whose owners had passed away and the houses were being sold intact, contents included. Two that I know of were owned by bachelors with no next of kin. Most the houses were neatly kept and it was as if the owners had just stepped out and would return momentarily. Very spooky.

  4. Janice says:

    Great article. I am always hoping to find places like this because it makes my mind wonder about the lives and the energy that used to occupy the home. Unfortunately too many times places are trashed by kids and there is no respect for what was left behind. Great article. Always enjoy your work.

  5. Deirdre says:

    Thanks for this thoughtful post and the melancholy photographs, some of which have a very haunting, dreamlike quality. But the ones of abandoned family photos are especially sad to me…

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