Buried in dust and rubble, many of these places look like the aftermath of global conflict or a deadly virus outbreak. Abandoned locations are oddly fascinating, and we’ve picked some of the loneliest on the planet:
- Hashima Island
- New Bedford Orpheum Theater
- Michigan Central Station
- Nara Dreamland
Hashima Island – Japan
Once a bustling community of 5,000 people, the small island of Hashima lies nine miles from Nagasaki, off the coast of southern Japan in the East China Sea. Known as “Battleship Island” for its ship-like silhouette, for almost a century the island was populated by miners and their families as Mitsubishi, the company mining the coal, built giant multi-storey houses for their workers, as well as schools, bath houses, temples and restaurants. The location was abandoned in 1974 after the coal ran out.
Despite being left to the elements for over 40 years, the island is still remarkably well-preserved. One former inhabitant who grew up on the island went back to Hashima years later to find his mother’s old decorations still hanging in his childhood home. Its eerie greyscale architecture has a cinematic quality, and producers of the James Bond adventure Skyfall chose to film the island for external shots of villain Raoul Silva’s lair.
New Bedford Orpheum Theatre – Massachusetts, USA
At the beginning of the 20th century, many an actor or opera singer would grace the New Bedford Orpheum Theatre stage, but these days the only thing you might see performing is something of the ghoulish kind. This impressive building was opened in 1912 before closing in 1959. Since then, it has served as a warehouse storing tobacco and even briefly operated as a supermarket.
The contrast between the hustle and bustle of a thriving cultural hub and the dusty, empty seats and crumbling walls is huge – but a non-profit organisation is planning to restore it, if it receives enough donations to summon the spirits of the theatre back to life.
Michigan Central Station – Detroit, USA
Detroit’s Michigan Central Station opened in 1913, replacing the original depot in downtown Detroit, which was closed down after a major fire. Forced into early service due to this disaster, at the time of its completion it was the tallest railway station in the world. After years of gradual decline, it finally closed in 1988.
There have been several attempts to restore the station in the decades since, however none have managed to get off the negotiating table. Since 2011 the site has been subject to demolition works and minor structural repairs in order to prevent the crumbling building from falling down.
Nara Dreamland – Nara, Japan
There’s nothing quite as creepy as abandoned theme parks, and the Nara Dreamland is the epitome of one. Inspired by the original Disneyland in California, it opened in 1961, but was closed in 2006 due to declining attendances.
Now, a decade after its closure, Nara Dreamland is overgrown with plants and its rides are besieged with rust. Legend has it that at every full moon you can still hear the screams of former riders of the park’s rollercoasters…
Pripyat – Ukraine
Pripyat tells the dramatic story of one of the greatest man-made disasters in human history: the nuclear accident at the Chernobyl Power Plant in 1986. Nearly 60,000 people had to be evacuated from the area because of the disaster, and it remains a ghost town to this day.
Possibly the eeriest site in Pripyat is the abandoned fairground, where the rusted dodgems, Ferris wheel and carousel remain. Today, so-called “disaster tourists” flock to the still-radioactively contaminated city to take guided tours, which suggests even human catastrophes can be a lucrative business…