Abandoned umbrellas

One of the most depressing urban sights in the city happens when the weather turns gloomy.  As the raindrops begin to fall, people (especially people like me who live by the motto, “Never leave home without an umbrella”) pull their umbrellas out of their bags and hurry on their way.  The umbrella street salesmen magically appear, pushing carts laden with all kinds of umbrellas.

But this is also when abandoned umbrellas also appear.  I don’t know if people simply toss aside umbrellas ripped apart or inverted by the fierce wind, or if the umbrellas are simply metaphysical apparitions that come to haunt us, or even to change us.  That there are approximately five trash cans on every block would argue against the former; I’m left believing that these ghostly umbrellas are back from the underworld.

Interestingly, the umbrellas do seem to resemble their real-world counterparts in that they can be photographed.  I’m beginning a collection here.

Union Square, June 14, 2008, early evening downpour 

Union Square, June 14, 2008, later evening rain continues

Broadway at 125th Street, June 28, 2008, afternoon rain 

Broadway at 168th Street, July 10, 2008, sunny afternoon

125th west of Broadway, July 18, 2008, after a morning rain, next to a packet of ketchup.  One of my favorites for the classic black, hooked handle, and the clear evidence of the violence the umbrella weathered.

At the hospital, July 23, 2008, morning downpour.  Probably more of a case of neglect than abandonment.

Amsterdam between 122nd and 123rd, August 3, 2008, nighttime drizzle.

Broadway between LaSalle and Tiemann, August 14, 2008, evening rain.

125th Street west of Broadway, September 2008, sunny afternoon.

6th Avenue near 47th Street.  I like how the wind has it pinned between the pole and the litter basket. October 25, 2008, dreary afternoon.

125th Street between Morningside Ave and Amsterdam Ave, October 25 2008, afternoon drizzle.

This one may not truly be an “abandoned umbrella” as there seems to be at least an attempt at proper burial or disposal.  However, it certainly adds to the forlorn feel of the afternoon rain. Amsterdam at 125th Street. October 25, 2008.

Broadway near 238th Street (Bronx), October 25, 2008, evening rain with wind gusts.


168th Street subway station, December 1, 2008. Rainy afternoon.  Looks like someone piled some trash behind the umbrella.  Perhaps less unseemly this way.


Subway station, Dec 9, 2008


125th Street subway station, December 11, 2008.


Manhattan street, December 25, 2008.  This one seems rather artful to me.  I get the sense of something weighty, something oppressive, bearing down on the umbrella’s thin vinyl.  Imagine a milstone delicately pinning down a butterfly’s wing.


Fort Washington Ave and 168th Street, January 7, 2009. Rainy afternoon.  This one reminds me a bit one from the October 25, 2008 series, only here the umbrella is less abstract, and more dissembled.


168th Street, January 29, 2009. Drizzly evening.  I like the windswept linearity in this picture.  Even the one metal finger is nearly in the same vector as the shaft.  The J-shaped handle adds a bit of a comet feel to the entire display.



8 responses to “Abandoned umbrellas

  1. disgruntled reader

    I’m beginning to think that the umbrellas are a metaphor of sorts for your blog. How long has it been since you’ve posted?

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