Monday, December 5, 2016

An abandoned funeral home in Jacksonville, Florida

Downtown’s Moulton & Kyle Funeral Home was founded in 1856 by Calvin Oak. While living in Vermont a few years earlier, Calvin was told that he had 6 months to live due to tuberculosis. Not feeling defeated by his diagnosis, he decided to move to Jacksonville, Florida and start a new life. 

In Florida, Calvin Oak lived 30 more years, becoming a successful businessman and one of Jacksonville's most prominent citizen's. He first became a manufacturer of guns, barrels and cartridges, building the city's first factory, while he also owned a jewelry store. In 1956 he went into the the marble and mortuary business with his son, Byron. 

After his death, as the business was in need for new modern facility, architecture firm Mark & Shetfall were commissioned to design a new two-story, Prairie School style building. The building was completed in 1914, while 12 years later a parking garage that featured a roundtable, which enabled cars to drive into the building and then turn around to head back out to the street, was added. 

As time passed, the funeral home went through new owners and was renamed Kyle McLellan Funeral Home. Its last owners, the Peeples family, relocated the business to a five acre site near River City Marketplace in 2013. What was left behind can be seen in this set of pictures. 



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Thursday, December 1, 2016

A rare abandoned Russian fighter jet

This rare abandoned Tu-128UT fighter jet was found in an aircraft repair plant in the Russian town of Rzhev by aviation photographer Marina Lystseva. Tupolev Tu-128UT (also known as Tu-28UT) is a training aircraft, based on the Tu-128 (also known as the Tu-28) interceptor. Only 10 of them have been built and this seems to be the only one remaining. 

Tupolev Tu-128 was developed in the late 1950's/early 1960's and introduced in 1964. The Soviets needed a new interceptor aircraft that could cover a large radius and combat NATO bombers like the American B-52, mainly during adverse weather conditions. TU-128, with a maximum weight of 43 tonnes, was the heaviest fighter to enter service. The Tu-128 was armed with four Bisnovat R-4 air-to-air missiles. A total of 198 aircraft had been built when production ended in 1970. It was finally retired in 1990. 

The Tu-128UT pictured below was a training variant of the Tu-128. Their main difference was that instead of a radar on the top, Tu-128UT featured a second cockpit, where the trainer would sit. Because of its shape, it was nicknamed 'the pelican' by the Soviets. 


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Monday, November 28, 2016

Inside the abandoned villages of Hong Kong

Just outside central Hong Kong, in the vast area known as New Territories, many once-thriving villages, have now been left abandoned and overtaken by nature. Many of these remote settlements were flourishing until the 1950s. Then, people started to move to the urban areas to find better-paid jobs, while others took advantage of Hong Kong's ties to the UK and went oversees to work in the Chinese restaurant business. 

By the 1960's an increasing number of people moved away from these villages, abandoning the rural homes, and traditional lifestyles like farming and fishing became less viable. Today, houses and other buildings in villages such as Chau Tau and Sham Chung have been consumed by Hong Kong's climate and fast-growing foliage. Even though some former residents would like to return to their villages, it's hard to so as the government doesn't offer enough services in those rural areas. Today, the only ones who visit Hong Kong's abandoned villages are hikers and urban explorers. 







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Monday, November 21, 2016

The underwater Soviet Rummu prison in Estonia



The Rummu prison, which opened in the 1940s by the Soviet Union in what today is Rummu, Estonia, was built in a convenient location: near a limestone quarry that inmates of the labor camp were forced to excavate. 

Forced labor at the site continued until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. After the prison shut down, the quarry quickly filled with groundwater and as no one was there anymore to pump out the water, it immersed in it some of the utility buildings and machinery, thus forming a lake. 

Today, the crystal clear lake that was formed in the site of the quarry has become a location for nature photography, hiking, scuba diving, and a summer spot for music and sports events. The lake has a unique appearance due to the minerals that were disposed there when it was still an excavation site. 

Although swimming and diving in the lake is extremely dangerous, many visitors ignore the warning signs. At least 2 of them have died there during the last years. 


Thursday, November 17, 2016

The abandoned 'Orient Express' train in Belgium

Left abandoned in a railway yard somewhere in Belgium, these old trains are rusting away. The national railway company of Belgium placed them there until a railway museum is built. In 2012, some trains had to be moved as the city was going to built a new parking site. 

The only train that was left behind was an old type 620 train. Those trains were once the pride of Belgium railways, but today this is the only one left. The train went viral online when an urban explorer called in an 'Orient Express' train. Orient Express was the name of a long-distance passenger train service created in 1883 and linking Paris to Istanbul. From 1977 to 2009, when Orient Express service ceased operations, the train was linking Paris to Vienna. The Orient Express trains never passed through Belgium

The abandoned train in Belgium might not be an Orient Express train but it is an impressive reminder of a past era. 




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Monday, November 14, 2016

The abandoned Essex County Jail of New Jersey



The old Essex County Jail was built in 1837 in the University Heights section of Newark, New Jersey. It was designed by architect John Haviland, a major figure in the American Neo-Classical architecture of the 19th century, most notable for Eastern State Penitentiary. Known then as Newark Street Jail, it was built to replace an earlier structure built at the present site of the Grace Episcopal Church

The jail consisted of a two story square building, built of brick and local brownstone in the Greek Revival styleIn 1890, the original building was expanded with multiple additions increasing the number of prison cells up to 300. The jail was also updated to include running water and toilet facilities in each cell. Later expansions also took place in 1895, 1904, and 1909.

The prison closed in 1970 after a new jail was built. Initially, the Essex County Narcotics Bureau moved in and used the building until a judge ordered the evacuation of the building due to deteriorating structural conditions.

In 1991, scenes for Spike Lee's film Malcolm X were shot at the jail and at the same year Essex County Jail was added to the National Register of Historic Places. However, the lack of maintenance and a fire in 2001 have caused a part of the jail to collapse. There were plans for a new science park to be built at the site after the remaining parts of the jail will be demolished, however the the city has rejected the plans and seeks to have the jail restored. Today it is the oldest surviving government building in Essex county. 



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Monday, November 7, 2016

The abandoned public toilets of London

Back in the Victorian era London, public toilets were considered a necessity. The first of those 'public loos' were built over rivers but their output was enough to choke off the flow of the Fleet River, a tributary of the Thames.

It was engineer George Jennings who pioneered London's distinctive 'public conveniences' - tiled underground chambers marked by iron railings or arches at street level. 

Today of course most those public lavatories have shut down. Most of them remain abandoned, littered and vandalized, while few have been successfully converted into cafes, bars and shops. 




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Thursday, November 3, 2016

The abandoned 'El Caballo Blanco' theme park of Sydney



'El Caballo Blanco' (The White Horse) was a Spanish-inspired amusement park, which opened in 1974 in the Catherine Field suburb, south-west of Sydney, Australia. The park was opened by Western Australian business entrepreneur Ray Williams who had brought the first Spanish horses in Australia a few years earlier. 

El Caballo Blanco's main attraction was its Andalusian dancing stallions, but the park also featured miniature Falabella miniature horses, and a number of non-equestrian related amusements such as waterslides, train rides, and a small wildlife zoo.

After the park shut down in 1999, the site was partly used to store items such as carpets, until a fire engulfed much of the building housing the main show arena. In 2015, demolition of the remaining buildings and attractions commenced to make way for a residential development.





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Monday, October 31, 2016

Skrunda-1: A Soviet ghost town in Latvia


The town of Skrunda-1 in modern day Latvia was of strategic importance to the Soviet Union. It was where two Dnepr radar installations were constructed in the 1960s. The two giant radars, having a length of 244 metres (801 ft) and height of 20 metres (66 ft) each, were one of the most important Soviet early warning radar stations for listening to objects in space and for tracking possible incoming intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The town was comprised by 60 buildings, including apartment blocks, a school, barracks and an officers club. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, with an agreement signed in 1994, Latvia allowed the Russian Federation to continue running the radar station for 4 more years, after which it was obliged to dismantle the station within eighteen months. Before vacating Skrunda-1 in 1998, the Russian troops dismantled the site and all material of value were carried to Russia. Since then, Skrunda-1 is a ghost town.

In 2008, the Latvian government decided to sell the Skrunda-1 site and in 2010, the entire 40-hectare (99-acre) former town was sold as a single lot at auction in Riga. The winning bid was by a Russian firm for 3.1 million USD (2.2 million EUR). However, the winner as well as the runner up pulled out of the auction. In 2015, the site was bought by Skrunda Municipality for just €12,000 ($13,450). Half the area was handed over to the Latvian National Armed Forces as a training ground while the remainder is to be leased by the local government to potential investors for development. 

As of February 2016, due to increased interest at the site, the municipality began charging an entrance fee of 4 euros to individuals.



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Monday, October 24, 2016

The ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada


Rhyolite, Nevada has been called "the most photographed ghost town in the West". Built in 1905, in the edge of Death Valley, 120 miles (190 km) northwest of Las Vegas, Rhyolite was one of several mining camps that sprang up during gold rush.

Starting as a two-man camp in January 1905, Rhyolite became a town of 1,200 people in two weeks and reached a population of 2,500 by June 1905. By then it had 50 saloons, 35 gambling tables, cribs for prostitution, 19 lodging houses, 16 restaurants, half a dozen barbers, a public bath house, and a weekly newspaper, the Rhyolite Herald. Industrialist Charles M. Schwab bought the Montgomery Shoshone Mine in 1906 and invested heavily in infrastructure, including piped water, electric lines and railroad.

Rhyolite in 1907 had concrete sidewalks, electric lights, water mains, telephone and telegraph lines, daily and weekly newspapers, a monthly magazine, police and fire departments, a hospital, school, train station and railway depot, at least three banks, a stock exchange, an opera house, a public swimming pool and two formal church buildings. By 1908, Rhyolite had a population of 5,000.

Rhyolite's decline was as fast as its rise. Production in the mine fell quickly as soon as the richest ore was exhausted. Moreover, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the financial panic of 1907 made it more difficult to raise development capital and soon the company's stock value crashed. In 1911 the mine closed after operating at a loss for a few years. By then, most workers had already moved elsewhere and the town's population was below 1,000. By 1920, it was close to 0.

This is when Rhyolite started becoming an attraction as a "ghost town". The town was used as a backdrop for movies even since the silent film era, starting with The Air Mail in 1925. Other movies that followed were The Reward (1965), Cherry 2000 (1987), Six-String Samurai (1998) and The Island (2004).







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