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The haunting beauty of abandoned playground rockets

Once, these rocket ships helped countless schoolchildren to conquer the vast reaches of space. Now, they look like a good way to get tetanus, with their rusty distressed metal. Photographer Lauren Orchowski's new book Rocket Science documents their beautiful decrepitude.

Orchowski's photographs won second runner up in the portfolio category of the 2010 International Photography Book Now Competition, and as part of her prize, the photos are being collected into a book, now available from Blurb. Here's the description:

Over a span of 6 years, artist Lauren Orchowski drove throughout North America documenting the Cold War-era rocket ship playgrounds with her 8 x 10 view camera. With photographs created in both black and white and color, the viewer is invited to contemplate Utopia, revisit their childhood, or question why they have not yet signed up for space camp. This collection of images is also accompanied by text offering insight to the evolution of the project.

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Here are some of our favorite pictures of abandoned rocket ship playsets. Check out more at the links, where you can also order the book. [Lauren Orchowski and Blurb]

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"Rocket and Twist"

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"Salute You, Oklahoma City"

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"Des Moines"

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"Missouri"

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"I Would Need A Jetpack"

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"San Gabriel"

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"New Mexico"

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"Rocket And Moon"

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"North Carolina #1"

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"North Carolina #2"

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"Drought & Then Rain"

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"A Place To Come Home To"

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"Blue Sky, Recline"

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"California Yellow"

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DISCUSSION

allinthefamily
allinthefamily

These pics are win; kudos to Lauren.

Also a big win is the approach my home town (Grand Junction, CO) took to decommissioning their rocket. I grew up down the street from "Rocket Park". It has a rocket similar to #'s 13 and 14. The park had a different official name but it is such a fixture in the neighborhood cultural landscape that everybody called it Rocket Park. The park also had a metal ringed planet about 8 feet in diameter you could climb in/on. It was awesome.

Anyways, the city eventually decided it had to go. When kids would get hurt, as they are wont to do on a playground, it was really hard for adults to get into the rocket to help them. If you haven't been in one of these as an adult, the hatches are kid-sized and alternate sides every level. Really hard to get to the top if you are over 5 feet and 100 pounds, like most EMT/firepeople.

The neighborhood opposed the plan to just scrap it. The city, to their credit, decided to seal the rocket and mount it and the planet on a big pole as an art installation. They also changed the official name to Rocket Park.

That's what I call effective compromise. There are many things to like about Grand Junction, not the least of which are Rocket Park, a great city council and rec department, and a neighborhood that cares.

[www.gjsentinel.com]