This afternoon, I visited a favorite vacant industrial site for the first time in a long while. The site is being redeveloped, which seems to involve moving huge amounts of earth around to create strange berms. I’m not sure if the berms are an intentional byproduct of the process or just what happens when they get they move the soil from some other place where it’s not supposed to be, but redeveloping dozens of acres of massively contaminated industrial land is no small feat.
It was a little jarring to be at the site and see it so massively changed, trees and buildings cleared, and virtually no dumped furniture or graffiti where there had been a cartoonishly excessive amount of both before.
I heard an engine noise, and I spotted a completely stripped out, back-window-less Jeep Cherokee full of guys in firefighter jackets driving up and down the muddy berms. They were jumping, spinning, doing everything they could with the vehicle. It was pretty funny. They looked like they were having a great time, which was confirmed when they drove past me shortly thereafter, with huge, huge grins pasted on their dirt-spattered faces. As they drove off down the street away from the old site, dangling pieces of the mangled Jeep scraped on the street behind them.
This site was a rag-tag and crazy place in its heyday as an abandoned destination, a site so large and isolated that paintball fights and epic games of tag were possible. One day, you’d visit and see someone doing donuts in an old van; you’d return several weeks later, and see the same van would be burnt to a shell; a few weeks later, you’d return and it’d be covered with graffiti. It’s not that I favor destruction or bad behavior, but there was a certain surreal do-whatever-you-want lawlessness that seemed inherent to the spirit of this place, and when I saw the Jeep guys I was comforted to see that a bit of its spirit remains.
[I am loath to mention the name of the site for fear of getting these guys in trouble, in case this is something they regularly do. They’re not hurting anyone. I’m sure a lot of you St. Louis-o-philes can guess where this is, but I thank you to refrain from posting said info here.]