Buy the Grossinger’s Book


By Jonathan H

Grossinger Book by Jonathan Haeber

More than two years ago, I photographed Grossinger’s for the first time. The iconic Borscht Belt resort was the crown jewel of the Catskills, but it had fallen into deep decline by the 70s. In the early 80s, it closed forever, and all that remains is its world renowned golf course and a few collapsing buildings. Immediately, I knew I had found something special in Grossinger’s, but – at the time – I was completely unaware of its connection to 20th Century Jewish-American history. I’m here to announce, after 18 months of rigorously poring over archival materials, photos, oral histories, and more, that Grossinger’s: City of Refuge and Illusion is officially a book – marking my first book in what I hope will be many more to come. You can read more about it and purchase a copy here.

Grossinger’s has been home to boxing greats and baseball stars, comedians, divas, and great impresarios of their times. I can also make a strong case that it was – at least in part – an inspiration for the birth of Israel. Supermarket shelves are still filled with its trademark bread; Dirty Dancing is still revered by cine-aficionados; even my great grandmother says it was on the tip of everyone’s tongue in her era.

Things change so quickly in this world – as has Grossinger’s. This year, Eddie Fisher, the star who was ‘born’ at “The G”, passed away. Every time I return, a different artifact is missing. The laundry building seems closer to complete collapse. The greenhouse’s withering weeds seem more dessicated than my last trip out. New pebbles appear on the gravestones of the Grossinger dynasty’s denizens.

Grossinger Graves

Grossinger’s Resort has a deeper meaning to me, personally, which I hesitated to tell others as I interviewed them for the book. I am Jewish, but I am far removed from the orthodox lineage; and with each generation a bit of the genetic lineage leaves as well. The only reason I can call myself Jewish is because my heritage traveled down the female line, and I retain it based on the technicalities contained within the Torah. But I’ve always been deeply drawn to this aspect of my life, and I’ve endeavored to understand more about who I am (what little of it is in me) through research projects in the past. I can finally say (after 18 months of research and preparation for this book) that I’m not quite as ignorant about my ethnic heritage, and that is something I’m very proud to admit.

Most of my words of thanks are contained in the book’s acknowledgments, and I have many people to thank – not the least of whom are the readers of Bearings, who have helped me hone my prose, practice my narrative, and develop ideas for stories. You are truly part of this grand project that I have in my mind, and which I plan on continuing in graduate school. I would like to thank three people in particular here – though the list could go on.

Sputnik Light

When I first met John Iwanicki he had a pile of Grossinger materials splayed across his motel bed. It takes a special spirit to collect such ephemera, but it was invaluable to my research. John’s astute memory often shocked me. He was able to remember the tiniest details of the most minute features of the Grossinger property. John is a natural raconteur, and I’m eternally grateful for his contribution to the project.

Richard Grossinger met me at his front door, walked me upstairs to his deck, and told me about his times as a child at The G. He told me about Jennie and Milton Blackstone; he talked about the symbolic and transcendental connotations of Grossinger’s new state of haphazard, beautiful madness. He held in his hand a note signed by the Matron Saint of Grossinger’s, his grandmother Jennie Grossinger. It was a first-hand account of the G as nobody else could tell, and I devoured both of his books (New Moon and Out of Babylon), which I highly recommend.

Finally, I couldn’t have been encouraged to complete this without my significant other (and soon-to-be roommate), Carrie Whitsett (to whom I dedicate the book).

Richard and John brought Grossinger’s to life for me. It was paramount that I imagined myself there, and I wanted my prose to retell history in vivid detail. I hope I haven’t disappointed on that front. Now that it’s done, I’m looking forward to getting some exercise, eating better, and prepping for grad school. I have many stories yet to tell, and as time permits, I will try to keep this space updated with new stories. It’ll be great to get back out shooting in the moon again, and I’m also looking forward to showing some yet-to-be-released images of another high-profile site with challenging entry methods but a treasure trove of things to shoot. Although our photography at this particular embargoed location is over, I’ve amassed a collection of hundreds of images that need to be edited and posted. And, of course, it’d be nice to write about this new place, too. Expect another series! In the meantime, Buy the Book!

6 comments on “Buy the Grossinger’s Book

  1. Congratulations Jonathan!

  2. Pingback: Grossinger’s « Photographs, Photographers and Photography

  3. Pingback: The Beauty of Urban Decay « Wow Cool

  4. Michael on said:


    I went to buy the book but it says “Sold out!”

    Is there any chance I could find it any where?

  5. I too want to purchase this book and cannot find it anywhere. Is it possible to find it? I visited Grossingers in 1978 and never realized of it’s present state. I am shocked!

  6. Christina Ackerley on said:

    I bought this book for my husband for Christmas.he’s grandfather worked at grosssingers. He met all the boxers and actors. My husband’s grandfather passed on all the pictures and autographs to him. This book will be a great treat..

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