Perched atop a quaint Cambodian landscape, Bokor Hill Station was once a thriving French resort town where visitors sought solace from the oppressive heat of nearby capital Phnom Penh. Yet after being abandoned twice, all that’s left is a ghost town punctuated by spectral, decaying buildings.
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Across the world are cities and places that once thrived but now lay in ruins. These abandoned cities, which are often referred to as ghost towns, can be as beautiful as they are haunting. Their decay causes our imaginations to run wild, conjuring images of a place lost to time and just what kinds of life may have passed through its city limits. Some have rich and glorious pasts while others have a dark and troubled history.
Abandoned Cities: Sanzhi Pod City
Sanzhi Pod City is located just outside of New Taipei City, Taiwan. Construction of this UFO style housing development began in 1978, and was intended to be a vacation resort marketed toward US military personnel. After several fatal car accidents during construction and an equally devastating loss of investment, the project was scrapped.
Many attribute the pod city’s bad luck to the bisecting of a Chinese dragon statue near the front gates in order to widen the road. Though the area had become a tourist curiosity and the subject of an MTV film, the pods were demolished in 2010 to make way for a commercial seaside resort.
As of July 18, 2013, the Motor City officially ran out of gas. Filing for for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, Detroit’s debts–a whopping $18 to $20 billion–represent the largest municipal filing for bankruptcy in United States history. And as its solvency has gone down the drain, so too has its population. In 1950, the burgeoning industrial city was home to nearly two million Americans. But today, as Detroit’s population has dwindled to a mere 700,000, the only boom Detroit has seen rests in the number of abandoned buildings popping up within city limits.
As evidenced by the following photos of an abandoned Detroit, those remaining might have a hard time forging optimism about the future when constantly surrounded by brick laid ghosts:
Looking at abandoned photographs, we are reminded of how quickly paint cracks and peels, and we, too, grow old and fade away. To view an abandoned space is to acknowledge the existential emptiness that defines us and yet drives us to fill it with the company of others, a good book, and a handful of living, breathing memories. In this series of abandoned photographs, time is presented as the ultimate source of authority: it weathers trains, sinks stadiums, and causes castles to crumble. The pictorial message is chilling yet also somewhat liberating; here are 40 of the most evocative abandoned photographs:
Hotly contested by first the Swedes and then the Russians and Finnish, the Karelia seen today serves as an architectural reminder of the inevitable toll that war and nationalism takes on a community.
Just southwest of Bogotá is Hotel del Salto, a once-luxurious establishment frequented by wealthy wanderlust-ers. Over the years, though, nearby river contamination led many of these travelers to cleaner water, thus leaving del Salto to fall into a state of disrepair. As the decrepit spot eventually became a popular place to commit suicide, many speculate that the dilapidated building is now haunted and has become famed as Colombia’s haunted hotel.