Follow @listofsurprises Five Abandoned Marvels of the Modern World
I have been wanting to break into an abandoned hotel in downtown Wilkes-Barre for a couple years now. It's a cool, partially demolished hotel in the downtown. I imagine that people once met there for highballs and dancing, back before places like Whiskey Business and Elmer Sudds opened their doors in our fair city.
I won't break in to the Hotel Sterling because I am a law-abiding citizen and blah blah blah. Also, because there are probably rats in there. Still, I like to imagine what it is like inside this turn-of-the-century hotel these days. Someone braver than me actually got in, and posted the pictures online. Check out the lobby in 1908, and today:
Awesome! Abandoned places give us the chance to see history overgrown. Some of these places look like they were abandoned in a big hurry, like modern-day Pompeiis. They're creepy and cool in equal parts, and I wanted to share five particularly gangsta ones.
1) San Zhi
San Zhi was built in the 1980's as a resort town in a rural part of Taiwan. The futuristic pods were possibly selected so that the buildings could be expanded by stacking more units on top. For reasons unclear, construction was halted and the project abandoned. The "pod city" attracted curious tourists for years, but, sadly, demolition started in 2009. There goes my spring break plans.
2) Holy Land, USA
After I left Connecticut, I found out two enraging things. One, Maury is filmed there. Two, there is an abandoned religious theme park in Waterbury I somehow never got to see. Holy Land opened in 1958, a 17-acre scaled-down replica of biblical settings. At its peak, 44,000 tourists a year flocked to visit attractions like Herod's palace and the Mount of Olives. It closed its gates in 1984, but is still standing in a state of disrepair.
3) Centralia, PA
Speaking of places I have inexplicably never been to, let's talk about Centralia. This former mining town sits about an hour south of my hometown, and it is so creepy it's inspired a video game and horror movie. The area once was home to a bustling community of hard workin' immigrants and sometimes-violent labor agititators called the Molly Maguires. Like most of northeastern PA, it also boasted a devout Catholic community and 27 saloons. Even after mining started to die out in the 1960's, the town hung on for another 20 years. In 1981, over a thousand Pennsylvanians still lived inside Centralia's borders. Today, the town boasts just 5 residents. What happened?
No one is entirely sure, but the most popular version of events is this. In 1962, local firefighters were charged with the task of burning the town's landfill, which was located in an abandoned mine. This was done every year, and there had never been a problem. This year, however, the fighters may have not fuly extinguised the flames. No matter how it started, a fire definitely started to burn beneath the town.
Residents weren't aware of the problem in the subterranean mine until 1979, when a local man lowered a thermometer into a hole in the ground and found that the temperature was over 170 degress. Two years later, a twelve year old boy narrowly escaped death when a sinkhole suddenly opened up in his backyard. He fell into the carbon-monoxide spewing cavity and had to be pulled out by his cousin. The problem grew as other sinkholes started to open up, filling some streets with steam.
In 1984, Congress deemed the town unsafe for habitants and spent over 40 million dollars to relocate residents. Five stubborn souls still refuse to move, despite the fact that the state is constantly trying to evict them. The mine fire continues to burn, albeit less hotly, as evidenced by the smoke billowing out of cracked roads and the area's elevated levels of toxic gas. No place like home!
4) Pripyat, Ukraine
Pripyat was once home to thousands of Ukrainians working at a local nuclear power plant and their families. As it was one of the largest plants in Europe, jobs were plentiful and life was good. Unfortunately, the plant was Chernoybl, which suffered the worst nuclear disaster in history in 1986. The radioactive fallout was huge, and the city was abandoned. The once-booming town, complete with amusement park, cultural center, and hospital, today lies in eerie ruins. If you play Call of Duty, it might look familiar.
5) City Hall Subway Station
Our last stop sits under the streets of New York. The City Hall Subway station was built in 1904, one of the city's first. It was lit by a skylight and crystal chandeliers. Can you imagine your commute home looking like this?
In 1945, the under-used station was closed to the public. It sat undisturbed under the city streets until the 1990's, when the city started to give tours of the forgotten landmark to curious history buffs. Sadly, fear of terrorists attacks ended that in 98'. I wish I had seen it, but it's kind of cool to know it's just hanging out down there to be re-discovered someday.
Good luck on your urban explorations, but remember: be careful! Trespassing is always whiskey business.
Chuang, Jimmy. "Taipei County Looks to Rebuild Site of Weird UFO Houses." Taipei Times. 29 January 2009. http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2009/01/29/2003434810
DeKok, David. Unseen Danger: A Tragedy of People, Government, and the Centralia Mine Fire. Lincoln: iUniverse, 2000.
"Forgotten New York: Subways and Trains." http://www.forgotten-ny.com/SUBWAYS/City%20Hall%20Station/cityhall.html
"Holy Land USA" Roadtrip Memories. http://www.roadtripmemories.com/roadmaveness/holyland.htm
"In Chernobyl, a Disaster Becomes a Tourist Draw." St Petersburg Times. 15 June 2005.
Meistersinger, Toby. "A Visit to the City Hall Subway Station." The Gothamist. 5 February 2007. http://gothamist.com/2007/02/05/a_visit_to_the.php
"This is Connecticut: Holyland, USA." http://www.thisisct.net/holyland.html
Vogel, Scott. "Chernobyl Among Hot Spots in Ukraine." SFGgate.com. 17 April 2008. http://articles.sfgate.com/2008-04-17/travel/17147426_1_concrete-sarcophagus-chernobyl-nuclear-plant-kiev