Photographs of abandoned homes in Chester show the sad decline of a once-thriving city

All images courtesy of Austin Hodges. © Austin Hodges

Just down the road from Philadelphia is a place called Chester. The largest city in Delaware County, it's also the oldest in Pennsylvania and was once deemed a "boom town". But despite its past success, Chester has been through some tough times.

American photographer Austin Hodges has once again picked up his camera to wander the streets of a city that feels abandoned and forgotten in parts. He's previously focused on Philadelphia, capturing empty homes and buildings that were once full of life.

For this latest project, Austin wanted to reveal the richness of Chester's past, paying homage to a city close to his own home: "I just love taking photos of abandoned, run-down, beautiful houses. Chester is particularly special as it has such an interesting history." And history it certainly has.

As Chester sits on the Delaware River, it's proved to be a great location for trade over the last few centuries. But it wasn't until World War One that Chester saw rapid growth, as swathes of people moved there to work in the local shipbuilding industry. Then, in 1927, the Ford Motor Company opened a factory on a former shipyard site, bringing more prosperity to Chester.

Sadly, these two sectors quickly declined in the 1960s and the consequences were devasting. Plagued with decades of political corruption and other controversies, by 1995 the state designated Chester as a financially distressed municipality. Here, Austin shares Chester's story. To see more, follow him on Instagram.

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges

© Austin Hodges