Old Glory on Older Inglorious

Central Warehouse in downtown Albany was originally constructed as a cold storage facility for the chain of A&P grocery stores. Eventually, it changed hands and became known as “Central Warehouse,” a big, imposing monolith that was visible throughout Albany’s Warehouse District.

But its usefulness faded over time, and it became more of an eyesore on the downtown skyline. Demolishing the building would cost millions, in that there’s oodles of asbestos and freon that would need abatement. For photographers, it’s been a source of local “urban exploration,” where camera-clutchers find a way inside, document what’s inside, and then post it online – never minding that they’re technically trespassing in a dangerous, crumbling structure.

Nowadays, the only time you hear anything about Central Warehouse is when someone talks about demolishing it, or someone claims to have bought it with the plan to renovate it as apartments or business space. But it still sits there, decaying to death.

About a month ago, I was on my way down I-787, when I happened to notice something on the building. I don’t know how that person did it, but someone climbed in the building, got up to the roof, and draped an American flag off the side.

What have I got in the car with me? My Kodak Medalist II (“Kodak Red”), which I had packed with expired Kodak Ektachrome 64X film to test if the recently-repaired camera could return to shooting.

Parked on the side of I-787. Hazard lights on. Got out. Squeezed off a couple of shots in the building’s direction.

I then shipped the film off to Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas, who can develop E-6 slide film. I wasn’t expecting anything magnificent; it was just a test to check the camera’s capabilities.

Last Friday, I received my film – along with a CD of scanned images.

Pulled up the shots of Central Warehouse.

Okay. Camera works. And the film still had some life to it.

Let’s process this bad boy.

And then …

Here’s what’s finished.

Central Warehouse with Old Glory. Kodak Medalist II camera, Kodak Ektachrome 64X expired film. Photo (c) 2021 Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

Man. That just looks grimy and gritty and nasty. Not nasty in a bad way, more like nasty if you’re Ms. Jackson.

I’m going to hold onto this image, and I think I can find a home for it. Don’t know where, but definitely somewhere.