Modern Ruins

Portraits of Place in the Mid-Atlantic Region

Hardback or cased
Shaun O'Boyle, Geoff Manaugh
Published 13 Sep 2010
List Price £30.95



“[Shaun] O’Boyle documents these subtle ruins that surround us every day. He beautifully captures the hidden beauty of abandoned sites such as the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Bethlehem Steel, and the Bannerman Island Arsenal in New York.”

—Megan Roth, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Those old enough to have grown up in the shadows of factories have seen those same factories become either ruins or condos. O’Boyle’s black-and-white photos capture both the grittiness and the poignancy of such disparate—yet oddly similar—sites as the Eastern State Penitentiary, the Bethlehem Steel Works, and the bizarrely grand arsenal on Bannerman’s Island near Cold Spring, NY.”

—Frank Wilson, Philadelphia Inquirer

Shaun O’Boyle has been photographing ruined landscapes and buildings, primarily in the mid-Atlantic region, for more than twenty-five years. This collection of photographs features some of his best work. The book is divided into four sections, each representing a type of site now abandoned—prisons and mental health institutions, steel production facilities, coal mining and processing facilities, and a weapons arsenal. These photographs are hauntingly beautiful; they are also historically and culturally instructive.

Modern Ruins begins with an introduction by architectural essayist Geoff Manaugh, who offers insight into why people are so drawn to ruins and what they might mean to us in a larger psychological sense. Brief essays by noted historians Curt Miner, Kenneth Warren, Kenneth Wolensky, and Thomas Lewis offer social and historical contexts for the sites documented in the book. These sites include Eastern State Penitentiary, Bethlehem Steel, and Bannerman's Island Arsenal, among others. The book concludes with an interview with the photographer that touches on his fascination with ruins and explores some of his procedures for documenting them. Modern Ruins is a compelling collection of stunning and melancholy photographs, one that helps us hear these abandoned places speak.



Introduction: The Survivals

Geoff Manaugh


Curt Miner


Kenneth Warren


Kenneth C. Wolenksy


Thomas Lewis

Interview with the Photographer

Shaun O’Boyle is an architectural designer and photographer who lives in Dalton, Massachusetts. His current projects include documenting the Gettysburg battlefield in Pennsylvania and the early space program at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

A collection of photographs and essays focusing on postindustrial landscapes and abandoned buildings in Pennsylvania.