Thursday, April 18, 2013

Photo Essay: Rancho Los Amigos, Abandoned County Poor Farm, Downey (Exterior)

I was excited enough to wander around the exterior and peek inside Linda Vista Hospital, a relatively large, abandoned medical complex in East LA.

But then I heard about Rancho Los Amigos in Downey, just southeast of Linda Vista, which is practically an entire town of abandoned hospital facilities.



The former Los Amigos is not to be confused with the currently open Rancho Los Amigos, a very much open rehabilitation center.



Just south of it, across the highway, is a huge complex of other hospital buildings and residences, all abandoned.



They say that when it closed in the 1980s, all the workers and residents left so quickly, they just left everything behind.



They even left the lights on.



This complex is where the old Los Angeles County Poor Farm used to be - once simply called "The Farm" - where paupers of the elderly and disabled variety would be sent to rehabilitate...or not.



This area also housed the Hollydale Mental Hospital...



...and an old polio ward.



It is famously haunted.



Everything is fenced up and boarded up now...



...but not too long ago, doors swung wide open. Brave souls wandered through. Many got spooked enough to go running out.



The facilities many buildings and support and maintenance structures, however, aren't entirely in disuse.



In 2006, the Marines were using the abandoned buildings as part of a military exercise (reminiscent of the firefighter training that used to happen in Governor's Island's old Coast Guard barracks)...



...when they made a gruesome discovery:



...a freezer in the morgue...



...full of mummified body parts.



Upon investigation, a pathologist explained that the severed body parts were probably from amputees...



...but who knows what else is lurking in these buildings?



The County Poor Farm opened in 1888, but it continuously expanded over the following decades...



...evoking the same Mission Revival style of the current Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilitation Center across the highway...



...and bearing modern ephemera and signage.



Because most of the structures are relatively well-protected and locked up now...



...they have been able to keep people out of them...



...but not nature. Trees grow where they can grow, where there are no humans to stop them.



That being said, someone does come and trim the lawns surrounding the buildings. There was no overgrown grass to be seen lining the sidewalks and open walkways.



Some of the areas of the old Rancho seem like they must've been quite nice, once, surrounded by palm trees...



...and balconies...



...but gazing at the broken windows on a drizzly, cloudy day...



...the silence and abandonment is enough to make you shudder.



Reportedly, feral cats have taken over many of the cottages and buildings...



...prompting neighbors and animal lovers to set out food to take care of them, a practice which is strictly verboten and prohibited by ubiquitous signage.



I wonder if the cat-feeders know they are also nourishing a giant skunk, who I spooked out of one of the shelters. (I was lucky enough not to get sprayed, but unlucky enough not to get a photo.)



With all the cats there, it's surprising that a couple of people can be spotted walking their dogs...



...but there are areas of this ghost town which are actually quite lovely and open, like by the Art Deco auditorium with its pergola-like shelter. I wanted to get in there.



With all the No Trespassing signs, there's nothing really keeping anyone from skulking around...



...as long as they respect the boards and fences...



...and it's kind of nice to explore a traffic-free environs in LA County.



But people did once live here...



...and parked here...



...and there are constant reminders of that.



Now, decades after closing, this expansive area remains in limbo...



...as the birds build their nests in the rain gutters...



...the paint peels...



...the locks rust...



...and the lights go out.

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