Sunday, October 7, 2007

Sadness and Woe: Kodak demolishes buildings

Several weeks ago, Kodak demolished Building 50 (one of the buildings where black and white paper was made) in Kodak Park in Rochester, NY. It seems that there are no plans to build on or sell the land; several others were imploded this past summer and a couple more are slotted to be imploded soon. You can read more and watch slideshows and videos of Buildings 9 and 23 at this Democrat and Chronicle online feature. Buildings 65 and 69 came down this past Saturday.

Dave Valvo, whose remarkable pictures are below, explains what happened in each of the buildings, the images, and the effect it had on former employees:

{about Building 50 in the first photo}
To the left of bld 50 was where paper roll storage Bld 16 used to be. Behind Bld 50 in his picture is where Bld 9 used to be, Paper Finishing, Bld 10 where I started at KP [Kodak Park] and Bld 36. Looks like a war zone up close. I photographed this about 3 hours after the destruction. Many old Paper Manufacturing alumni were coming by and we talked. Everyone had a glum face as they saw where they spent much of their lives... gone...

{about Building 65 in second photo - Dave said he will go back to document the rubble}
This is building 65, scheduled for implosion very soon (it was, this past Saturday). It was also known as CP&P or Color Print and Processing. All films sent to Rochester using the old yellow mailers were processed here. It was later part of Research. I worked here at that time for a while. This is a difficult image to capture. Those of you from Rochester will know why. There are buildings on camera side of the street. So this is a stitch of taking images around the sides of the buildings as though they were not there and then putting the result together.
From my Dad: "I did not work there [building 50], but I visited it often when I was coordinating B/W paper...when I started at Kodak in 1962 they had 120,000 employees worldwide with 60,000 in Rochester. ... It takes much fewer employees for digital that it does for film especially if you have others do the manufacturing for you. Remember that George Eastman and his successors wanted a vertically integrated manufacturing plant so that they had DIRECT control over all aspects of the manufacturing process even including gelatin making (Eastman Gelatin in Peabody, Mass, etc.)."

Here are some quotes from a recent AP article on the recent events:

As film fades, Kodak's mammoth manufacturing hub shrinks
By BEN DOBBIN, The Associated Press, ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP)

As mainstream photography turns digital, the mammoth film-manufacturing hub that George Eastman opened here in 1891 is swiftly shrinking. A decade ago, when it stretched across 1,600 acres, Kodak Park was easily the biggest industrial complex in the Northeast. By year-end, when Eastman Kodak Co. wraps up a drastic, four-year digital overhaul, its miles-long perimeter will encompass a mere 700 acres. ... The company used explosives to implode three cavernous buildings this summer and has sold big tracts to developers, most recently a 330-acre plot anchored by a 2.1 million-square-foot warehouse. ... Even as revenues in its traditional businesses tumble, Kodak is still leaning hard on high-margin film to generate the profits needed to see it through the most painful passage in its 126-year history. Kodak Park, now a mix of old-world chemical plants and the most advanced filmmaking technology anywhere, sprouted up on an abandoned fruit farm a few miles north of downtown two years after Eastman launched silver-halide film in 1889. ... Only about 100 buildings will be left this winter, down from 212 in the 1990s. Kodak's work force also is contracting: its global payroll will soon slide to 34,000, half what it was five years ago. In Rochester, there will be fewer than 10,000 employees - versus 60,400 in 1983. ...
You are getting sleepy, "buy Kodak, buy Kodak..."

Photographs by and couresty of Dave Valvo, Thank you Dave for sharing and taking these important photos!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to spot those lovable yellow boxes in the rubble, looks like no one got injured! I'm still teaching large format film next semester! I think there are still valid reasons to shoot that! Plus all my students are so scared of film and not seeing what they are going to get, so I think it will make them better shooters as well. What, they'll actually have to think about what to shoot instead of shot gunning it? Hope all is well in Boston!