Heidi Warner

The Disappearance of the Catskills/Borscht Belt Hotels

For as long as I can remember, my family visited the New York Catskill Mountains on vacation. We had a huge extended Jewish family, and over a hundred of us would reunite in one of the many Borscht Belt hotels. My father would sit and talk with everyone in the lobby all day and into the wee hours of the night. I would run from the soda shop, to the ice rink, to the game room. It was at these hotels that I learned the value of family and close bonds, and felt that strong feeling of commonality. It was a wonderful time.

By the mid-1990s, the Catskills hotel area had declined and we, like most families, decided to meet elsewhere. But my memories of those times are vivid.

I’ve recently returned to these hotels and began documenting their condition. These trips are both sad and beautiful to me. The memories I have of these places makeup who I am, and these images somehow help me reconnect. I wander the abandoned buildings finding bits and pieces of that amazing time, just left there to rot. Pieces of the past endure snow and rain, gather cobwebs and mold, and slowly deteriorate with age and neglect. One day there will be nothing left.

Heidi has worked over ten years as an art director in the advertising industry. A few years ago, she decided to follow a passion she had for photography and pursue a second career. She attended the International Center for Photography full time program and has been shooting both video and still photography on various freelance projects, including documentary, environmental portraits and coverage of social events.

Artist’s Website: heidiwarnerphoto.com