Monday, February 14, 2011

Photo Essay: Bottle Village (Updated for 2016)

Folk art is pretty common in California, but it's more common out in the desert (see: Salvation Mountain).


Circa 2016

But up in Simi Valley, there's a place made nearly entirely of bottles...


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...an entire campus constructed of soda bottles: Chlorox bottles, blue bottles, green bottles, brown bottles, and various ephemera...


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...all held together with mortar.


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I've now had a couple of rare opportunities to visit...


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...though its public tours and open houses are few and far between.


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There's the sense that it may not be long for this world—and you've got to experience it now, before it disappears completely.


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During my first visit in 2011, you could actually go inside of the buildings.


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But they sustained a lot of damage in the 1994 Northridge earthquake...


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...before which everything was intact.


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Now, however, entering most of the buildings—the schoolhouse, the shell house, the pencil house—is verboten.


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There are really only two structures that have close to their original four walls. The rest have been reduced down to facades...


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...or never had any walls at all.


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And you've not only got to step around the broken shards of glass underfoot...


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...but you've also got to wear soft-soled shoes to make sure you don't break any of the bottles further.


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At the time, bottles were cheap building materials...


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...mostly because they could be collected from the local dump for free.


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That means that what Grandma Prisbrey—the creator of Bottle Village—found was generally bottles of beer, wine, and other liquor.


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But once people knew that she collected something specific—say, baby doll heads...


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...they'd start bringing those with them to gift to her.


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After all, from the beginning, Bottle Village was always a tourist attraction.


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And as creepy as it was (and is)...


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...kids love(d) it.


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A lot of people—even in the neighborhood—know Bottle Village is almost never open, so they clamor to get in if they see the gate open.


Circa 2016

But, of course, the more we visit it, the more our footsteps take a little something away from it.

Related post:
Photo Essay: Bottle Tree Ranch
Photo Essay: Low Tide at Dead Horse Bay