We’re all familiar with the ruins of ancient civilizations, but what about more recent history? From businesses that went belly-up to environmental disasters forcing the evacuation of entire towns, check out some fascinating and strange abandoned ruins of the modern age.
Originally built to house workers at the nearby Chernobyl Power Plant, the city was evacuated after the nuclear disaster. Once a city of about 50,000 people, structures like high-rise apartment buildings, restaurants, shops, swimming pools and even an amusement park have been decaying since 1986. Trees now grow inside buildings. In this picture, you’ll see the remains of a kindergarten classroom.
Eastown Theatre, Detroit, Mich.
Opened in 1930 as a cinema, Detroit’s Eastown Theatre moved on to host rock giants like Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane until it was shut down in 1973. From 1975 to the mid-90′s the theatre had many lives — hosting everything from jazz concerts and live theater to adult films, church services and raves. It has been unused since the 1990′s and has since fallen into disrepair.
Photo Credit: BB and HH via Flickr
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Sanzhi UFO Houses, Taiwan
Marketed towards U.S. Military officers as resort housing, the UFO houses began construction in 1978. In 1980, money troubles cut the project short. Rumors of ghost sitings, several unexplained car accidents and the bones of 20,000 people discovered by workers also added fuel to the fire. For decades the ruins were a tourist destination. However, they were demolished in 2010 to make way for a water park and resort.
Photo Credit: Jill via Flickr
Hashima Island, Japan
From 1877 to 1974, Mitsubshi owned and operated this island as a coal mine and housing for its workers. It was closed as Japan moved from coal to petroleum as its main power source, but opened as a tourist destination in 2009. It’s now being proposed as a possible UNESCO World Heritage site.
Image Credit: Jordy Theiller via Wikimedia Commons
Wired Magazine dubbed Picher, “America’s Most Toxic City” — and, as a former lead and zinc mining town and a current Superfund site, it certainly deserves the dubious honor. By the mid-1990′s, 63 percent of Picher’s children suffered lead poisoning.
In 2005, the state government offered Picher residents buyouts to residents for their land. By 2009, the city government and police force had completely dissolved. The 2010 U.S. Census counted just 20 residents, most stubborn holdouts. Demolition of the town began in January 2011.
Image Credit: Micael Fienen via Flickr
Six Flags New Orleans
In the wake of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Six Flags New Orleans shut its doors, having opened just five years earlier in 2000. The area was badly flooded (the picture above shows the park two weeks after the levee failed), leaving the park severely damaged. The future of Six Flags New Orleans remains unclear — on February 6 2012, a committee rejected any plans for the site to become a theme park, though an original developer of the site is trying to rally public support for rebuilding it to its former glory.
Image Credit: FEMA
Haludovo Palace Hotel, Croatia
Penthouse Magazine founder Bob Guccione invested $45 million USD in this resort, hotel & casino in this former Yugoslav republic. The Penthouse Adriatic Club within the resort opened in 1972 to much fanfare. Though the interior is now destroyed, the exterior remains relatively intact.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
In 1962, a mine fire started in Centralia, Penn., and, 50 years later, it’s still burning. It is believed that city workers set a heap of trash on fire in an abandoned mine, and that heap was not properly extinguished. For decades, the city tried to put out the fire to no avail. After extremely unsafe levels of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide were detected, and a 12-year-old boy that fell into a fire-created sinkhole in his backyard became a national news story, Congress allocated $42 million in relocation funding in 1984. Most families have since relocated. There are still about 10 residents of Centralia, though they began formal eviction proceedings in 2009.
Image Credit: Lyndi & Jason via Flickr