In the northwest corner of Manchester lies a large plot of undeveloped land, the last barren parcel in the city that isn't a swamp or park. The Hackethill area is a mix of woodlands and protected wetlands that is a beautiful piece of space, and meandering through it are long abandoned roads, parking lots and sewer systems of a stillborn project that has spanned almost 40 years now.
In the 1960s, the University of New Hampshire opened a new branch of the University called Merrimack Valley College off of Hackethill Road. A large building, called French Hall, was constructed with all the necessary classrooms and administration offices. The college had minor success and a few years later the 830 acres of land behind French Hall were purchased with the idea of building a true campus in Manchester.
|The development as it currently looks via Google Maps.|
|The largest of the abandoned parking lots.|
|One of the many broken street lamps that fleck the parking lots and roads.|
Weeds, grass and full grown trees sprout from every crevice in the pavement. Mold and moss cover sidewalks that never saw the hurried footfalls of students running to their next class. Fire hydrants sit rusting and storm drains choking with leaves. The sights are a little eerie, almost post-apocalyptic, but the land itself is beautiful. It's a reminder that in only a few short decades the Earth can easily take back what we have built. I couldn't imagine what the place might look like 100 years from now if no one decided to develop it. The city could make it a free form park and archeologists could study the deterioration of modern infrastructures and see how our civilization might survive a millennium.
|A barely visible piece of sidewalk.|
Sadly, the land was too valuable for such an endeavor and the city sold it to Danais Realty earlier this year for $2.8 million, which plans to develop it as the Northwest Business Park at Hackett Hill. It should be noted that there is a small group of people protesting the development, as several areas of the land are protected nature preserves. You can read more about their effort here.
More photos after the jump.
|Danais Realty current development plan.|