The Domino's sugar refinery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has been an iconic East River landmark since 1882. Most of it is about to be demolished due to a new development plan, so photographer Paul Raphaelson was invited to take one last look inside just before the demolition work started.
Once the biggest sugar refinery in the world, Domino shut down in 2004, after a long struggle. Most Brooklynites of my generation know it as an icon on the landscape, multiplied on t-shirts and skateboard graphics. Urban explorers sly enough to breach the gates have found a playground of sublime, post-industrial texture and nostalgia.
I've been attracted for a long time to the iconic and esthetic features of the place. I also realized that if I had the chance to photograph it, I'd want the work to explore something more.
In 2013, the owner of the site, Two Trees, generously agreed to let me in. I had proposed a project that would attempt to look beyond the popular surface of Detroit-style decay photography. My goal was an expansive, even messy, fusion of art, icon, and industrial history. I wanted to show the ruin as its majestic self, and also as a lens through which to explore the history of the place and its people.
This is part of a series in which we are featuring futuristic, alien-looking or just plain awesome images of landscapes, cityscapes, and objects. If you are a photographer with such work, please drop me a line here.