October 2009Monthly Archives
The fearsome reputations surrounding certain historic – and often abandoned – places mean it doesn’t need to be Halloween for ghosts and ghouls to come crawling out of the woodwork. These three venues, where the spirits of the dead reportedly run riot in a ghastly ghostly carnival, might offer the more supernaturally minded among you some ideas for where to explore – or to stay well away from…
It was doomed to be an unfinished project that would claim almost 15,000 lives. Today the remains of Stalin’s vast railway, which was set to run within the Arctic Circle from Salekhard to Igarka, can be found rusting in the icy tundra. History would later remember it as the “railway of bones”.
It isn’t long since “lunatic asylums” were common-place in the world’s more advanced societies. The taboo of mental illness combined with a lack of understanding of the issue meant sufferers were often isolated from society for long periods – sometimes indefinitely. Take into account the horrifying conditions within and the terrifyingly institutional look of the buildings themselves, and entering the asylum must have evoked the inscription from Dante’s Inferno: Abandon all hope ye who enter…
We’ve all heard of the Lost City of Atlantis, but what about the Lost City of Detroit? It is staggering to think that the once proud Motor City could disintegrate into such total decay.
“The Mig” and all the aircraft variants that name covers, has become a veritable icon of the Cold War. The vast number built by Russia over the last half century and heavily exported means that, while some remain airborne, others lie derelict or destroyed from Siberia to Iraq and beyond. Here are just a few that continue to languish on in various states of disrepair.
“Rag Flats” in Philadelphia is an awesome example of how a rundown industrial site can be turned into innovative eco-friendly living spaces. The experimental development explores the link between local urban dwelling and the need for greater energy efficiency.
The Chernobyl disaster is widely believed to be the worst of its kind in the history of nuclear power. The nearby city of Pripyat, which was built to house the plant’s workers, has become a well known ghost town in the wake of the catastrophe. But what became of the scores of military vehicles – helicopters, fire engines and tanks – that fought the burning nuclear fuel spewing out of the remains of the station’s fourth reactor?
Urban decay is often at its most poignant in former recreational buildings, such as old cinemas. Abandoned swimming baths also have a unique character to them, often with ornate tiling and elaborate iron work decorating their balconies and staircases. Designed to offer a touch of elegance, stepping inside is like travelling through time.
“The Fighting Temeraire” by JMW Turner is a symbolic painting depicting real life events. The work marks the passing of an epoch – the transition of sail to steam – as the old man-of-war and veteran of Trafalgar is towed to the breakers yard. But in all the pomp and ceremony surrounding the painting, it has gone almost unnoticed that parts of the warship can be seen today in the parish church of St Mary’s Rotherhithe.
The old mining settlement at Bodie in California is arguably America’s best preserved ghost town. Dating back to around 1859, Bodie is frozen in a state of “arrested decay”, looked after as a historic park but not restored to its original condition. This makes the town both authentic and mysterious.
These bizarre fortified towers look more like a cross between the Imperial Walkers from Star Wars and the Martians from War of the Worlds. In the context of the time they were built – the Second World War – they must have looked impossibly futuristic. Today, their rusting shells seem like an invading hoard of mechanical monsters – the opposite, in fact, of what they actually are.
Since the dawn of large scale industrialisation, cities have witnessed the construction of factories of titanic proportions. Their foreboding facades oozed imperialism and symbolised the wealth and dominance of the leading industrialists that ran them. They also served as reminders of the global reach of these once local firms.
“Surprised” is hardly the word to describe the way I felt after finding out that Hobbit “holes” really exist – and people actually live in them!
Modern aircraft are at the forefront of cutting edge technology and science, defying the laws of physics on a daily basis through a myriad of computer-controlled interventions. But once their service lives are over, military aircraft in particular can go from being multi-million dollar front-line hardware to mere scrap value.
The road to Bagram Airfield in the Parwan Province of Afghanistan is littered with the spoils of war, most of it now completely destroyed. The desert floor abounds with the wreckage of Soviet era military equipment, including tanks and other armoured vehicles.