Monday, October 24, 2016

The ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada

Rhyolite, Nevada has been called "the most photographed ghost town in the West". Built in 1905, in the edge of Death Valley, 120 miles (190 km) northwest of Las Vegas, Rhyolite was one of several mining camps that sprang up during gold rush.

Starting as a two-man camp in January 1905, Rhyolite became a town of 1,200 people in two weeks and reached a population of 2,500 by June 1905. By then it had 50 saloons, 35 gambling tables, cribs for prostitution, 19 lodging houses, 16 restaurants, half a dozen barbers, a public bath house, and a weekly newspaper, the Rhyolite Herald. Industrialist Charles M. Schwab bought the Montgomery Shoshone Mine in 1906 and invested heavily in infrastructure, including piped water, electric lines and railroad.

Rhyolite in 1907 had concrete sidewalks, electric lights, water mains, telephone and telegraph lines, daily and weekly newspapers, a monthly magazine, police and fire departments, a hospital, school, train station and railway depot, at least three banks, a stock exchange, an opera house, a public swimming pool and two formal church buildings. By 1908, Rhyolite had a population of 5,000.

Rhyolite's decline was as fast as its rise. Production in the mine fell quickly as soon as the richest ore was exhausted. Moreover, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the financial panic of 1907 made it more difficult to raise development capital and soon the company's stock value crashed. In 1911 the mine closed after operating at a loss for a few years. By then, most workers had already moved elsewhere and the town's population was below 1,000. By 1920, it was close to 0.

This is when Rhyolite started becoming an attraction as a "ghost town". The town was used as a backdrop for movies even since the silent film era, starting with The Air Mail in 1925. Other movies that followed were The Reward (1965), Cherry 2000 (1987), Six-String Samurai (1998) and The Island (2004).

SEE ALSO: More ghost towns around the world // More abandoned places in the United States // LIST OF ALL DESERTED PLACES 
For more deserted places, LIKE US on Facebook and FOLLOW US on twitter

(Click here for the full post)

Blogger Tricks

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The remains of Crystal Palace train station in London

Crystal Palace High Level railway station opened in 1865 to serve visitors of the giant glass structure of the 'Crystal Palace' which was moved from Hyde Park to Sydenham Hill in the London Borough of Southwark in south London in 1851. 

The station, was one of the two serving the new Crystal Palace (the other being the Crystal Palace Low Level station, which is still open), and the terminus of the Crystal Palace and South London Junction Railway. It was designed by Edward Middleton Barry as a lavish red brick and buff terra cotta building. The station was excavated into the ridge below Crystal Palace Parade requiring major engineering works.

Traffic on the whole branch declined from 1936 after Crystal Palace was completely destroyed by fire. During World War II the line was damaged by bombs but reopened a few years later. However, the need for further reconstruction work and the fall of passenger numbers led to the decision to close the station and branch on 20 September 1954.

Crystal Palace station was demolished in 1961 and in the 1970's the site was developed for housing. However, a fan-vaulted underground pedestrian passage in finely detailed red and cream brickwork still survives and it is now a Grade II listed building.

There are different urban legends surrounding the closure of Crystal Palace station surviving to this day in the area. Some claim that an engine or carriage remains hidden inside an abandoned tunnel collecting dust, while others believe the station was closed because a commuter train was trapped by a tunnel collapse, entombing the passengers, who remain trapped there to this day. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

An abandoned hotel in the south of France

Squeezed between the train tracks and a street, Hotel Belvédère du Rayon Vert in Cerbère, France resembles an old abandoned ship. The hotel was designed in the art deco style by the Perpignan architect, Léon Baille, and built between 1928 and 1932 in a triangular plot.

The hotel has four levels and it was built using reinforced concrete. Many details of the building resemble an ocean liner, like the exit of the staircase to the roof that looks like a funnel. The hotel had a restaurant, a cinema, as well as a tennis court built on its roof. 

Hotel Belvédère served mainly travelers of the railway line between France and Spain. With the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War though, the borders were closed and the hotel finally shut down in 1983. A few years later the building was protected under the list of historic monuments. Although it stayed abandoned for the most time since, part of the hotel has been restored to be used as apartments. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Poveglia, the most haunted island in the world

Just a short distance away from Venice, Italy, there's the tiny Poveglia island, which has been called 'the world's most haunted island'. Venetians still have stories to tell about ghosts seen on the island, some friendly and some not. To understand why Poveglia has this reputation, we have to dive into its troubled past.

From 1776, Poveglia, which belonged to Venetian government was used as a check point for all goods and people coming to and going from Venice by ship. A few years later, in 1793, there were several cases of the plague on two ships, and consequently the island was transformed into a confinement station for the ill until it shut down in 1814. Venetians believed that the island was haunted by the ghosts of all those terminally ill who died on it. It is estimated that more than 100,000 died on the island over the centuries. Their bodies are still being discovered inside mass graves.

In the 20th century the island was again used as a quarantine station, but in 1922, the existing buildings were converted into an asylum for the mentally ill. That's where many people went through unimaginable horrors after a doctor allegedly experimented on patients with crude lobotomies. It is said that he later threw himself from the hospital tower after claiming he had been driven mad by ghosts.

Today, the surviving buildings on the island include a cavana, a church, a hospital, an asylum, a bell-tower and housing and administrative buildings for the staff. The bell-tower is the most visible structure on the island, and dates back to the 12th century. In 2014, the island was leased for 99 years by an Italian businessman under the condition that the abandoned structures will be restored. The restoration progress will cost around €19 million (around $21.2 million).

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The abandoned 'Chicken Church' of Indonesia

On the the hills of Magelang, in the central part of the Indonesian island of Java there's a giant abandoned structure, resembling a chicken.

Locals call it 'Gereja Ayam', Indonesian for 'Chicken Church'. It was built by Daniel Alamsjah, a man who in 1989, while working 550 kilometers (342 miles) away in Jakarta, had a vision, a divine message from God according to him, asking him to built a prayer house for all religions. During Idul Fitri that year, Alamsjah was walking around Magelang where his wife’s family lived, when he came across some land that had exactly the same view as in his vision.

According to Alamsjah, the 'Chicken Church' is neither a chicken nor a church, but a prayer house built in the shape of a dove. As he didn't have a lot of money, he had to negotiate with local farmers and in 1990 he got an offer to buy 3,000 square meters (32,300 square feet) of land on Rhema Hill for just Rp 2 million ($170), which he paid in installments over the course of four years.

He says that a a diverse set of people visited his prayer house. “Seven nationalities were represented like countries including Japan and there were many people there, not just Christians. Muslims were praying there too.” The basement of the 'church', made up by 12 dark unfinished rooms, was used for 'rehabilitation'. “The rehabilitation that happened at this prayer house was for therapy for disabled children, drug addicts, crazy people and disturbed youth who wanted to fight,” he says.

'Gereja Ayam' shut down in 2000, still unfinished, as the construction costs were too high. Today, Alamsjah, who says he has a background in therapy and has 21 patients living in his house, is trying to sell the 'Chicken Church'. Many tourists visit the abandoned prayer house today, mainly expats who have been inspired to trek up to Gereja Ayam by the social media. The building also houses young couples in search of privacy, looking to get away from prying eyes

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The urban ruins of Cairo, Illinois

The town of Cairo, Illinois was established in 1836 in the heart of "Little Egypt". That's where the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers converge, in an area with the lowest elevation of any location within Illinois. In 1855, Cairo became the terminus of Illinois Central Railroad and the town flourished as trade with Chicago spurred development. By 1860, the population exceeded 2,000.

During the American Civil War, Cairo became a strategically important supply base and training center for the Union army, even though much of the city's trade was diverted to Chicago. However, due to Cairo's strategic location, the town flourished after the War. It became a center for banking and an important steamboat port, with so much river traffic that the city had been designated as a port of delivery by act of Congress in 1854. Moreover, Cairo became a hub for railroad shipping in the region. Wealthy merchants and shippers were attracted to Cairo, building numerous fine mansions in the 19th and early 20th century.

The peak of Cairo's population came in the 1920's, surpassing 15,000 people. Ferry traffic had already started declining as the railroad was now able to cross the river after new bridges were constructed. Cairo was no longer an important hub. 

With river traffic and rail traffic drastically reduced, much of Cairo's shipping, railroad, and ferry industries left the city and employment prospects were gone with it. Racial tension was strained by the late 1960s as the United States was in the middle of the civil rights struggle. Racial violence, protests, and riots between police and Cairo's black community intensified the city's decline. In 1978, with the opening of a new Interstate 57 bridge across the Mississippi River Cairo was bypassed and the town was now crippled. Restaurant and hotel businesses, and even Cairo's hospital closed.  

By 2010, Cairo had only 2,831 people. Poverty, crime and unemployment still remain a challenge for the town. In the recent years there have been attempts to restore some of Cairo's abandoned buildings to develop heritage tourism focusing on its history and relationship to the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.

SEE ALSO: More ghost towns around the world // More abandoned places in the United States // LIST OF ALL DESERTED PLACES
For more deserted places, LIKE US on Facebook and FOLLOW US on twitter

(Click here for the full post)

Monday, September 26, 2016

The abandoned Rochester Subway of New York

Rochester Subway operated in the city of Rochester, New York from 1927 to 1956. Its history dates back to 1918 when the Erie canal was re-routed to bypass downtown Rochester. The empty section of the canal was used as the core of the subway. The train lines were built inside the canal while the subway's roof was turned into Broad street. However, of the approximately 7 miles (11.2 km) of the subway's length, only 2 miles (3.2 km) were underground. 

In 1927 Rochester Subway operations began under contract with New York State Railways. The line was also used by interurban railways with Rochester and Eastern Rapid RailwayRochester and Syracuse Railroad, and Rochester, Lockport and Buffalo Railroad running trains. 

In the aftermath of the Great Depression, New York State Railways fell into bankruptcy and from 1938 the subway was operated by the newly formed Rochester Transit Corporation. To cut costs, the company reduced weekday service and in 1952 Sunday service was eliminated. In 1955 Rochester's city council decided to end all subway service on June 30, 1956. Following the end of passenger service, the biggest part of the subway bed was filled in and used for the construction of interstate 490 and interstate 590. Freight trains kept running on the underground part of the subway until 1996. 

Rochester city officials have decided several times to fill the remaining abandoned part of subway, however those plans were controversial. Others have suggested to built a new subway system using the same tunnel or an underground walkaway. And some others would prefer to see the abandoned tunnel filled with water, by re-rerouting Erie canal to its original path. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The abandoned Family School Fureai in Japan

The city of Yubari on Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido, is known as the "Detroit of Japan". Back in 1960 it was the "capital of coal" and had a population of 120,000. By 1990, when the last coal mine closed, the population had plummeted down to 20,000 people and when the city declared bankruptcy in 2007, less than 10,000 people still lived there. To make things worse, it's also the city with the oldest population in the country.

As coal miners and their families were fleeing Yubari during the last decades, they left behind a large number of abandoned buildings. Asahi Elementary School opened in 1975 to consolidate 3 other local schools (Teimi, Fukuzumi & Daini) that already experienced a sharp decline in the number of students. Then, 413 students were attending the school. By 1982, only 60 students were left.

It was then when it was decided to close the school and convert it into a public dormitory under the management a semi-public corporation – Yubari Kanko Kaihatsu. The building became known as Family School Fureai. In 2006 the company went bankrupt and the school closed forever.

Since then, Family School Fureai has been sitting abandoned. The building has been damaged due to water leaks while it has also been heavily vandalized. Wild animals and occasionally people can be found living inside.

SEE ALSO: More abandoned schools around the world // More abandoned places in Japan // LIST OF ALL DESERTED PLACES 
For more deserted places, LIKE US on Facebook and FOLLOW US on twitter

(Click here for the full post)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Inside New York's Letchworth Village: the abandoned mental institution of horror

Letchworth Village in Rockland County, New York was supposed to be a model institution for the mentally ill. In reality though, thousands of patients were kept in inhumane conditions, forced to work and were subject to horrific abuses and experiments. 

Letchworth Village, a "state institution for the segregation of the epileptic and feeble-minded.” opened in 1911. It was different from other mental health institutions of its time in that it was constructed as a village. Separate living and training facilities for children, able-bodied adults, and the infirm were not to exceed two stories or house over 70 inmates, a major departure from the almshouses of the 19th century.

The village's fieldstone, neoclassic buildings consisted of small dormitories, a hospital, dining halls, and housing for the staff. Until the 1960s, the able-bodied labored on communal farms, raising enough food and livestock to feed the entire population.

Behind closed doors though, the reality was much different. According to a report from 1921, patients were divided into three categories of "feeble-mindedness": the "moron" group, the "imbecile" group, and the "idiot" group. The last of these categories were admitted into Letchworth Village, because they were unable to "benefit the state" by doing the various jobs that were assigned to the male patients, included loading thousands of tons of coal into storage facilities, building roads, and farming acres of land.

The same report from 1921 mentioned that 317 out of 506 inmates were between the ages of 5 and 16, and 11 were under the age of 5 years. Visitors observed that the children were malnourished and looked sick. The Letchworth staff claimed in the report that there was a scarcity of food, water, and other necessary supplies. 

Children were also subject to testing and some of the most cruel neglect. Many of the children were able to comprehend learning but were not given the chance because they were thought of as "different." In 1950, virologist Hilary Koprowski tested his live-virus polio vaccine for the first time on a boy, inmate of Letchworth Village. As there were thankfully no side effects, 19 more tests were administered to patients.

Over-population was one of the harshest conditions at Letchworth. Barely ten years after being constructed, Letchworth's buildings were already overpopulated, cramming 70 beds into the tiny dormitories. Nearly 1,200 patients were present during 1921. By the 1950s, the Village was overflowing with 4,000 inhabitants. In the 1940s, a set of photographs revealed the terrible conditions of the facilities as well as the dirty, not well kept patients. Naked residents, highly neglected, huddled in sterile day rooms.

In 1972, ABC News investigative reporter Geraldo Rivera featured Letchworth Village in his piece "Willowbrook: The Last Great Disgrace". The documentary, looked at how intellectually disabled people, particularly children, were being treated in the State of New York. He found that residents of Willowbrook State School and Letchworth Village lived in awful, dirty and overcrowded conditions, with a lack of clothing, bathing, and attention to their basic needs. The facilities were incredibly understaffed, and there was little or no actual schooling, training or even simple activities to keep residents occupied.

Although the segregation of mental patient had long been considered wrong, and the inhumane conditions at Letchworth were widely reported, the institution was closed only in 1996. Many who worked at the Village refuse to speak of their experiences. Today, at the entrance of the abandoned Letchworth Village buildings there is a large memorial stone with the words "THOSE WHO SHALL NOT BE FORGOTTEN" for all the nameless victims who perished at Letchworth.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The semi-abandoned Kelenföld power plant in Budapest

The Kelenföld power plant of Budapest was built in 1914. Back then, it was the first boiler house and electricity-supply building in Hungary's capital, as well as Europe’s first electricity exchange. 

The building is an incredible example of thoughtful industrial design from the prewar era with its Art Deco control room, with a massive glass ceiling, being one of the more recognizable features. It was designed by two architects around 1927, Kálmán Reichl and Virgil Borbíro, and was constructed within 2 years. Throughout the rest of the plant, corridors are decorated with tiles from Hungary's world-famous Zsolnay porcelain manufacturer.

The control room, as well as the largest part of the power plant shut down and was abandoned in 2005. A part of the the plant is privately owned and still in operation, providing power to Budapest. Today, the plant produces 4% of Hungary's energy and 60% of Budapest's heating and hot water. The main gas supply comes from Russia through Ukraine and in case it gets shut off, for whatever reason, the station has a liquid fuel-oil reserve on-site that can last for eight days.

Even though the largest part of the factory today is abandoned, it can't be demolished as it's protected as an 'industrial heritage' building. Sometimes, the building is used for music videos and movies while some rare tours for the public inside the facility have to be booked well in advance.

SEE ALSO: More abandoned industrial sites around the world // LIST OF ALL DESERTED PLACES 
For more deserted places, LIKE US on Facebook and FOLLOW US on twitter

(Click here for the full post)