It had utopian beginnings, you might say.. Wikipedia: "Holyoke was one of the first planned industrial communities in the United States. Holyoke features rectilinear street grids—a novelty in New England. This street hierarchy is seen as a potential economic development tool as it lends well to high-rise buildings, and the surrounding canals could be landscaped into a source of recreation and relaxation."

We'll see how that turned out.

You might suspect this isn’t going to be pretty.



No, it's not going to be pretty. Then again, that's a 2011 picture. Here's today:


The decay's a bit nicer, wouldn't you say?



Many more windows remain to be broken; perhaps the locals want to save them for the right time.



I don’t know what explains the line of bricks. Sidewalk renovation, some sort of rehab-for-blight in the 70s?


Great sign. They inherited it.




IThe S. S. Pierce Store refers to a chain of grocers:

In addition to a wide variety of goods for sale, the company provided notable customer service.

"The company hired horse-drawn sleighs to deliver groceries when snowstorms closed roads to auto traffic, and maintained a well-drilled corps of salesmen who would phone housewives at appointed hours. They not only suggested menus but answered such arcane questions as how to cook an ostrich egg (boil it) or how to extract the flavor from a 6-in. vanilla bean (bury a 1-in. cutting from the bean for a month in a pound of sugar). Once when a hostess in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., complained that a case of turtle soup had not arrived, a Pierce salesman took an overnight train to deliver it in person — just in time for her party.”

I don’t think they could tell you about the ostrich egg today.


Package store, that strange regional term for booze.



Note the dark square on the sidewalk: that’s where they unloaded the groceries.


The longer I look at this building, trying to think of something to say, the sadder it gets:



Because it’s so ordinary - its condition, I mean. But also its style. It’s as ordinary as a building from that era could be, and it still has more style and dignity than the thing next to it.

I don’t think it’s a successful store that sells spackle buckets and washing machines. Note the bits of decoration, 19th century in style, still around after decades of use. Or more likely, still around because of decades of neglect.



Palimpsest ghost ad:



Possible to detect the wisps of a Coca-Cola ad?


Okay, what happened to this city? Everything's gone. Everything's for sale.



How long did it take to die?


You get the idea that it bustled once, but bustles no more.




I like - obviously - when the image is almost an abstraction.



And when it’s mysterious. Those vertical lines built into the brick - what function did they serve?

Or Hair-Hun, because someone broke the window.



Odd man out:


Key of the Fish Market Sea: at least they kept the old mass-produced cornice decorations.


Does wood really keep the scroungers out?

Two buildings of substance, testifying to bygone better times:


The windows on the building on the right must have looked nice at twilight in the winter, when the building glowed from within. I don’t think anyone at the time imagined what it would all become.

Few ever do.

Once the nice hotel where the smart set stayed, and had every need catered with alacrity and deference.



That's a 2011 view. The hotel's gone now.

They tore this down:


Vacant lot today.


So what happened? I'm guessing that this happened . . .



And this happened.



Things closed; things moved away. But hey: some people like living here!


Or they're saying, hey, whaddya gonna do.

I should note: the Google cars have been back since I snapped these shots; some buildings have been spiffed up. The new shots were taken on a sunny day, and the city looks better. But still vacant.

You wouldn't guess it had an intersection like this from the pictures you've seen:




Yet it does. Have a look around, and give my regards - and best wishes - to Holyoak.