Thursday, May 28, 2009

Invading the Wasteland: The Hugo Boss building

This is what I've been affectionately calling the Read More building. When I was a little girl, this used to be the Hugo Boss factory. We would drive past on the way home from church or school, and I wanted to live there. That is until anything resembling industry fled the Near West Side for Brookpark. Afterwards, some development company was trying to make condos out of it, and you can see how that turned out by the state of their torn apart by jackals sign. For years now it's been sitting empty, windows cracked out and graffiti growing faster than mold. This is where those people you see begging for change on the 41st/44th St exits probably live. I am a little jealous. No, I know, it's sad. But still, maybe just a little....

So J and I took a trip. I've tried to provide a taste of our experience here. Just go roll around in the dirt and get drunk on mojitos beforehand, for the full experience. And later, bite yourself in several small spots, to simulate the invisible insect bites you will not remember getting later.

Below is the first spot I wanted to try breaking in. Thank god J. promptly wisely patiently nixed that idea, because even if we hadn't disturbed some poor drunken psychotic, we would have entered in the basement. You'll see why that would have been a immensely horrible idea later.

So we walked around the sunny, very non-threatening outside until we found a nice hole in the wall that someone had very thoughtfully punched through. Which made it technically not breaking and entering, just entering.

At first, we were in a staircase, and every doorway was sunny and well decorated. Well decorated in lot of things designed to make us scared. Fuck that shit. I can draw on walls too, and also? I can spell.

Where we entered was actually the 2nd floor, which was nice sunny warehouse. See people used to have jobs here. Jobs that involved strange suspicious wires hanging from the ceiling. Ostensibly for garment bags maybe? Maybe. It's strange to think this building has only been abandoned for what? 20 years?

3rd floor: slightly darker, but still open. This would be the drug use with friends/raping dates room. This is where Jenny McKinney cut her boyfriend's older brother when he tried to take off her shirt, even though he'd already paid for it.

Then the 4th floor, which I dubbed the happy plant growing, gang initiating, campfires, slightly soggy floor room. I like the blue. It makes it seem like there should be community center dance-offs here. Only they would fall through the floor.

Finally the roof. Obviously the site of a violent standoff between the forces of good and evil.

I'm not sure if the skull means evil won or lost.

J. suggested we go down the staircase on the other side of the building. The one covered with ivy. Which meant it was much darker. Definitely the ambush staircase.

Which took us down to the actual first floor. The Abestos Floor. Where people go to hide.

And...the basement.
This is one area J had to take me by the hand and lead me in like a fucking mute sacrifice. The floor was pitted with canals, and pipes and large completely brilliantly black alleyways between gigantic machinery. I'm not sure if flashlights would have made this more or less scary. But it was mechanical monster cool. Maybe the dye works? Probably just the furnace.

That may or may not be a dead dog in the corner, or a plastic bag. It was hard to tell since all this light was coming from the camera flash. I don't know, sort of looks like some species of giant black beetle, doesn't it?

Here is J giving himself tetanus by climbing a rusty ladder to the rusty trap door that was filled with flesh eating spiders or murderous mutant rats, or treasure. I could not get a clear shot because I could hear the zombie dogs coming. I am not sure if he is giving himself a victory shout or maybe trying to shake a spider off his sleeve before it implants eggs in his forearm.

And thankfully gratefully, a little regretfully we made it back out to the now very welcoming, sunny, beautiful, childlike stairway. Even the PBR cans took on a new shade of innocence. The shotgun shell J picked up to give me as a souvenir seemed like a lucky penny, or at least a powerful potential totem object/cat toy/ evidence.

Lots more harrowing tales can be found here. Or just more pictures of things that may or may not be dead. That is a metaphor.


  1. Twelve years. The last workers moved out of there in 1997.

  2. I guess it's looked abandoned far longer than its been...

  3. I really enjoyed that. today has been an exceedingly mind numbing boring day in the office.

    thanks for helping to break that up for me


  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. reader of more booksJanuary 2, 2012 at 9:23 AM

    Interesting. I actually live in one of the townhouses in front of the building (one of the only finished parts of the project you mentioned!). I just bought it about a year ago, and ironically, I have been reading more books since I have moved in (ha, mostly because my bf bought me a Kindle for Christmas).

    The new owner who purchased it in 2008 got a few grants, but I haven't seen any signs of work yet :-(. I bought the place knowing nothing might happen to the building.

    Thanks for letting me see the inside without venturing over myself.

    PS - You're right about the bums on the exit living there.


Who wants to fuck the Editors?