‘Ruins of the Second Gilded Age’

From 'Ruins of the Second Gilded Age'

Not too long ago, a photo essay was posted on the New York Times website, and then quickly removed.

And that means you probably didn’t see it. The title was “Ruins of the Second Gilded Age.” The subject was unfinished and abandoned building projects across the U.S., like the one you see above.

The photo essay was removed after it was discovered by a savvy reader that one of the photos had been digitally manipulated by the photographer. And for a serious newspaper, digital manipulation of photos is totally, absolutely forbidden. Upon review, the newspaper found many of the photos had been manipulated to make them more dramatic. And so the photo essay had to go. (Read the newspaper’s explanation.)

Gilded AgeThe photos were pretty fake looking, albeit dramatic. They really could be in an art gallery. They are still on the newspaper’s site and you can see them by cutting and pasting this URL into a browser:


and then manually changing the number at the end from 1 to 2, then 3, etc.

Still, we have lost an important photo essay that shows how the recent frenetic construction of new homes and buildings turned out to be completely unsustainable.

But you know what is sustainable? Improving the houses and buildings that already exist. There are millions of already-built homes aching for some TLC. It’s all about living upon this planet in a way that allows us to continue living on this planet.

So if you have an existing house, stop craving a new house carved into farmlands or forest lands far from civilization. Rather, look upon your existing house as part of the green wave of the future. After all, as the environmentalists say (and I be one of them): The greenest house is the one already built.

3 Comments on ‘Ruins of the Second Gilded Age’

  1. Why S?

    My house is 100 this year. And while we’ve had to replace everything in it except the foundation and the frame, I’m very pleased that we did not encroach on farm land or otherwise unruined space.
    Although I already have mine, the idea of the American Dream as defined as homeownership has got to go.

  2. Jeff

    Yup. Home improvements can significantly increase your family’s quality of life for less than the price of a new home.
    It’s common sense, but it’s not that obvious, that land is a finite resourcel; meaning we can only have so much of it.

  3. Kathlene

    Excellent points Kathy. We wondered how all that sprawl could continue because as you said, it was clearly unsustainable. I fully support your suggestion of improving existing homes instead.