In his Abandoned Places photo series, photographer Pablo Iglesias Maurer does something fascinating. He collects postcards, matchbooks and other vintage ephemera depicting Borscht Belt hotels and resorts in the 1960s. Then he recreates the images with new photos of the same places now long-abandoned, to show the difference 50 years makes...
Catskills Resort Then
Hi, I'm the Ghost of the Borscht Belt. In the '60s, I vacationed here with my family every year. Now I haunt the long-abandoned husks of various Catskills resorts, trying to recapture those idyllic days. I remember this patio well. I drank a lot of gin-and-tonics here, let me tell you.
Catskills Resort Now
The first time I returned here, to see if there was an open bar for ghosts, I ran into a total weirdo dressed like a clown. Said his name was Pennywise. Haven't been back to haunt that place since.
Grossinger's Outdoor Pool Then
The Grossinger's Catskill Resort Hotel installed this pool in 1949. My kids loved it there. I loved to watch them swim. My son Archie was like a fish. I used to call him my little fish. He hated that. He's dead now too.
Grossinger's Outdoor Pool Now
When I returned to haunt the pool, this is what it looked like, nothing but a small puddle of stagnant rainwater in the deep end. There were some little fish in it. They reminded me of my dead son Archie.
Catskills Resort Lounge Then
Oh, boy. This lounge. I used to hang out here with some other dads. We smoked stinky cigars and drank old Scotch. We called ourselves "the gang." It was Heaven on Earth, boy.
Catskills Resort Lounge Then
Looks like a different sort of gang hangs out here now.
Catskills Resort Bowling Alley Then
Oh, yeah, of course I remember this bowling alley. It was at the Homowack Lodge. This where I won $80 off Roy Mezvinsky in July of 1964. His wife Mavis was not too happy with me.
Catskills Resort Bowling Alley Now
The first time I came back here as a ghost, I found an old ball still sitting in one of those ball returns. I tried to roll it down the lane for old times' sake, but I couldn't pick it up. I'd forgotten about the rules of incorporeality. I'll never get used to being an apparition.
Catskills Resort Theater Then
I saw Henny Youngman play this room in the summer of '66. Hardest I ever laughed while I was alive. I don't laugh very much these days. I'm a ghost.
Catskills Resort Theater Now
Folks say you can still hear Henny's ghost doing one-liners and sawing that violin of his in this now abandoned and dessicated theater. But it's actually just me messing with people.
Catskills Resort Beach Then
In the '60s, there was nothing like summer in the Poconos. The trees, the pulsing summer sun, the beautiful girls. I'll never forget it.
Catskills Resort Beach Now
In 2019, there are a lot of things like the Poconos. Graveyards. Haunted mansions. Abandoned psychiatric hospitals. Et cetera.
Catskills Resort Dining Room Then
I loved this dining hall. My wife Fran used to complain that there were too many tables, that it was always too cramped. But I loved it. All the people, the din of cutlery and glassware, the rabble of happy vacationers.
Catskills Resort Dining Room Now
Fran would love it here now. But thank God she doesn't haunt these places too. Can you imagine?
Penn Hills Indoor Poll Then
My second favorite pool was the indoor pool at the Penn Hills Lodge and Cottages. It's not that the pool itself was so great, but that's where I met Rose, the first woman I cheated on my wife with. We carried on that affair every summer for four years.
Penn Hills Indoor Poll Now
I have to admit, I was kind of hoping to run into Rose's ghost when I made my first haunting of Penn Hills. I didn't see her, but I realize now I forgot to look under that pile of trash. I should go back! Oh, Rose.
Another Catskills Resort Lounge Then
This cocktail lounge. How many gallons of Scotch did I drink in this room? How many games of bridge did Fran and I play in this room with other vacationing couples? How many times in this room did I spill my guts to Fran about my extra-marital affairs? One, on that last thing. Just the one time.
Another Catskills Resort Lounge Now
Once is also the number of times I came back to haunt the ol' lounge. It used to be my favorite place, but it just wasn't the same without the bar and all the tables. Plus, I really spoiled it for myself that time I confessed to Fran about my many infidelities.
Grossinger's Indoor Pool Then
This was the indoor pool at Grossinger's. It was the jewel of the Borscht Belt, the most famous part of the most well-known resort hotel in the Catskills.
Grossinger's Indoor Pool Now
Now it's like a greenhouse that grows graffiti and mildew. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. Ghosts love mildew. It's what we eat!
Grossinger's Pool Party Then
Here's another photo of the indoor pool at Grossinger's. And there's me. I'm the one in the white bathing suit. I remember that day. I was pretending to listen to Roy Mezvinsky chatter on, but really I was just staring at those women, thinking about cheating on Fran.
Grossinger's Pool Party Now
This room used to be synonymous with luxury. Now it's all but forgotten. It's filled with cobwebs and decay, not to mention less tangible things like desolation, despair and melancholy. But, to be honest, those things equal luxury to an old wraith like me.