The tricky thing about ruin porn is that sometimes it’s quite beautiful. Case in point:  these photographs by German-born, Baltimore-residing photographer Ben Marcin.


Marcin’s photographs have actually been on view at C. Grimaldis Gallery in Baltimore for several months, but I’m embarrassed to admit that it took an article in the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper to put me onto them. The text accompanying the Daily Mail story is predictably heavy on the Baltimore-is-derelict-and-beautiful theme we’ve come to know so well:

Standing alone, in some of the worst neighborhoods, these nineteenth century structures were once attached to similar row houses that made up entire city blocks.


Time and major demographic changes have resulted in the decay and demolition of many such blocks.  Occasionally, one house is spared – literally cut off from its neighbors and left to the elements with whatever time it has left. Still retaining traces of its former glory, the last house standing is often still occupied.

But despite the “Baltimore is a dying city” (we beg to differ!) captions, Marcin’s photographs are worth a look. Putting aside the tropes of decay/blight/dereliction, something funny happens to your perspective when you look at just one rowhouse on a city block (as opposed to, say, a row of them):  the rear facades of the surrounding houses peek through, the vacant lot around the house seems suddenly huge, and your spatial understanding of what a city block looks like gets upended. For more of Marcin’s “last house[s] standing,” check out his portfolio site here.