Dale Rio

The Borscht Belt
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Nationality: American
Biography: I am a photographer who has been shooting and printing my own work for nearly thirty years.  I received an MFA in photography from Pratt Institiute in 1996 and a Fulbright Travel Grant and the Miguel Vinciguerra Grant in 1997.  Since... read on
Public Story
The Borscht Belt
Credits: dale rio
Updated: 08/28/15
I have always been fascinated by abandoned places, particularly those that were of great importance in their heyday.  I recently discovered the Borscht Belt, an area of the Catskills that boasted an enormous number of massive, luxury resorts and more modest bungalow communities for much of the 20th century.  It was a place where people from New York City, (particularly Jews), spent their summers, and many great musicians and comedians got their start there.  A number of factors - use of air conditioning, an increase in airplane travel, and a decrease in anti-semitism - contributed to the decline of the Borscht Belt.  Most of the resorts and bungalow communities are abandoned or have been razed, apart from a handful that are still operational, some clinging to life.  It is mind-blowing to think of the sheer number of buildings that once existed in the area and are now gone.
I started making trips to the Borscht Belt to shoot in the winter of 2015 and am collaborating with an historian on a project focusing specifically on the bungalow communities.  We chose this focus because although research exists on the resorts, little has been done in regard to the more humble bungalow communities. 

By Dale Rio —

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