Monday, May 22, 2017

A Russian space shuttle, left abandoned at a Moscow car park

Back in the 1970's the Soviet Union began their own reusable spacecraft program, in response to NASA's space shuttle program. Soviet space shuttles, called Buran, had unsurprisingly a similar appearance to NASA's space shuttles. The Soviets built about 13 space shuttles, most of them only partially, and some only for testing purposes. Only one Buran was flight-worthy. The expensive Buran program was soon suspended due to lack of funding, and finally cancelled by Russia in 1993. 

The Buran spacecraft with the designation OK-2K1 (or 2.01) was the third spacecraft to be produced for the program, scheduled to take its first flight in 1994. Although it was never named, it is known by the nickname 'Baikal', after the large Russian lake. When the Buran program was cancelled, Baikal was only 30%-50% finished, practically an empty cell.

Since the collapse of Soviet Union, Russia hasn't done a good job maintaining its Buran shuttles and celebrating their history, probably considering the Buran programme a failure that isn't worth remembering. After residing for about a decade in the Tushino factory were it was constructed, the Baikal orbiter was left in 2004 under open sky on a car park in Moscow, near Khimki Reservoir. 

On June 22nd 2011 the orbiter was put on a barge to be moved via the Moskva river to the MAKS 2011 international air show, which took place from 16 to 21 August in Zhukovsky. As of November 2013, it remained at the Ramenskoye–Zhukovsky Airport.

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Monday, May 15, 2017

The abandoned Marine Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee

The Marine Hospital of Memphis, Tennessee opened in 1884 in the French Fort district of the city. The hospital consisted of 6 buildings: the surgeon’s house, a stable, the executive building, two wards and the nurses’ building. The main building, a three-story neoclassical brick building in Georgian style, with slate roofing and large limestone columns was completed in 1937.

The Marine Hospital was originally used to treat Civil War soldiers and also to conduct scientific research in hopes of finding a cure for yellow fever. For more than a century it was used to treat marines and other seamen.

During the 1930's several new buildings were added to the site, while other buildings, like the wards and the stable were demolished. Today, only two of the original buildings survive: the nurses building and the executive building. Both are listed on the National Register of Historic Places

The Marine Hospital closed in 1965. Since then, part of is was leased to a group of businessmen to house a metal museum while the government used part of the complex to house soldiers during Desert Storm. Developers are now looking to turn the building into apartments and a boutique hotel. 

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Monday, May 8, 2017

The ruins of San Haven Sanatorium in North Dakota

San Haven sanatorium was built was built in the early 20th century on Turtle mountain, close to the North Dakota and Canada borders. It was founded in 1909 after the state legislature put aside $10,000 for such an institution to treat TB patients of the state. Its location was ideal as it was far away from big cities were the population felt threatened from the disease. The sanatorium attracted patients and medical staff from all over the country until the tuberculosis epidemic died down in the 1940's thanks to antibiotics. 

Unlike other TB campuses, San Haven allowed (by a 1913 state Act) social organizations, like the Freemasons, to build cottages on the property. The same Act also forbade the sharing of drinking cups. San Haven was operating as a satellite hospital for the North Dakota Institution for the Feeble-Minded at Grafton, but as the hospital expanded it gained more autonomy.

In the 1950's, San Haven was converted into a sanatorium for the developmentally disabled, as most TB patients were now treated at home. Like with many similar institutions at the time, there were rumors for mistreatment of patients and other abuses at San Haven as well. The sanatorium was finally shut down in the 1980's. The closure of the hospital by government mandate became an issue that created a lot of anger and resentment in the area (which was named San Haven, after the sanatorium) as it brought a lot of money in the region. 

Since then, the results of abandonment are visible, while nature has reclaimed parts of the buildings. 

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Monday, May 1, 2017

Penn Hills Resort: An abandoned honeymoon resort in Pennsylvania

Penn Hills Resort was founed in 1944 in Pennsylvania's Pocono mountains, outside Stroudsburg and near a small town called Analomink. A tavern at first, it expanded to over 100 rooms, becoming a popular honeymoon resort. 

In the 1960's the 500-acre Penn Hills grew to include a ski resort and a golf course. Guest villas featured floor-to-ceiling carpeting, round beds, and heart-shaped bathtubs. An ice rink and a wedding bell shaped outdoor swimming pool were also installed. Billed "Paradise of Pocono Pleasure", the resort catered to young couples who enjoyed archery and tennis and danced at modestly lavish New Year's Eve parties where the motto was "No balloon goes unpopped."

During the next decades though the decline came gradually, and by 2009 when the 102-year old owner of Penn Hills died, the business owned more than a million dollars in back taxes. The resort closed 2 months later, with Monroe country taking over the property. 

Already in serious disrepair, flooding and copper thieves damaged the buildings further, and the resort was abandoned. Small pieces of the property were sold and in January 2016, a group of New York investors purchased what remained of Penn Hills for $400,000.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The abandoned Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers castle in France

Encircled by a moat in the midst of a large wood, Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers can be found at the at the town of Les Trois-Moutiers in the Poitou-Charentes region of France

Originally called Motte Bauçay (or Baussay), the stronghold was built in the thirteenth century by the Bauçay family, lords of Loudun. In the Middle Ages, the castle was taken twice by the English and it was devastated during the French Revolution

In 1809, Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers was bought by wealthy businessman François Hennecart who restored the castle to its former glory, an in 1857 it was passed to Baron Joseph Lejeunea. After a major fire destroyed most of the buildings in 1932, the castle has been abandoned. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Italian ghost town of Balestrino

Situated in Liguria, 70 kilometres (43 mi) southwest of Genoa, Balestrino is one of Italy's most mysterious ghost towns, with little information known about the town's history and origins as well as its demise. 

Balestrino dates back to at least the 11th century. During the middle ages, the Bava family, nobles from Piedmont, were the feudal lords of the town and the one's who built Balestrino's oldest castle. Later, in the 16th century, the Del Carretto family came into power and built their castle. The castle was burned down and the lord was killed in 1561, leading the family to establish a court and torture chambers to maintain control and stop rioting. 

Although the town managed to flourish, battles between his armies and locals during the occupation of Napoleon severely affected the area and its population. Balestrino came under the rule of the Kingdom of Sardinia and Piedmont and in 1860 it became part of the Kingdom of Italy

It is believed that earthquakes and hydrogeological instability was the main reason for the town's demise. A number of earthquakes in the 19th century caused a part of the population to flee, with the last inhabitants evacuating Balestrino in 1953. 

The abandoned area is 1.5 hectares wide and is made up of fascinating buildings such as the churches of St. George and St. Andrew, built in twelfth century. The town's best-preserved building is the Byzantine castle of Del Carretto, while the bridge of Deautra, covered in wild plants, is another beautiful corner of the abandoned town. 

Today, the ghost town of Balestrino, situated close to the newer Balestrino town is visited by thousands of visitors and explorers every year. It has also caught Hollywood's attention, chosen as a location for the movie Inkheart.

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Monday, April 17, 2017

The abandoned Kalakala streamliner ship

It was once the second most photographed structure in the world after the Eiffel Tower. MV Kalakala a ferry that operated on Puget Sound in the US state of Washington from 1935 until her retirement in 1967, became famous for its art deco design and its luxurious amenities.

She was constructed in 1926 as Peralta and went into service in the San Francisco bay until 1933 when she almost completely burned down during an arson fire at the terminal where she was moored. Its hull was sold to Puget Sound Navigation Company. Inspired by modern aircraft, Louis Proctor, an engineer for the Boeing Company suggested a modernistic and distinctive design which however lacked functionality. The final structure resembled a streamlined train, while its "flying" bridge was made out of copper out of fear that metal would interfere with the ship's compass. 

Kalakala, named after the Chinook Jargon word for 'bird', instantly became an icon as it entered service on July 4, 1935. In addition to ferry service, she was used for "moonlight cruises" with a live dance orchestra. During World War II she transported shipyard workers and Navy personnel between Seattle and Bremerton on an extended schedule. 

Lacking functionality and garage capacity, and having a heavy shaking vibration that ran throughout the vessel, the ship had become obsolete by the mid-1950's although it remained in service and was very popular among visitors to Seattle during the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. Kalakala was finally retired in 1967.

After her retirement, she was sold to a seafood processing company and towed to Alaska to work as a factory ship. In the 1970's, Kalakala was beached in Kodiak and was used to process shrimp. During that time the ship's internal structure was reworked to create a building with cement floors, drywall, and ceiling tiles. After left abandoned for years, Kalakala was refloated and towed back to Seattle in 1998 but its new owner didn't have enough money to maintain the ship. In 2004, a new owner moved her to Neah Bay and then to Tacoma, Washington but plans to restore the ship failed once more. In 2011, the Coast Guard declared the ship a hazard to navigation and in 2012 a yet another new owner bought it for just $4,000. MV Kalakala was finally scrapped in early 2015. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The abandoned backlot of Beijing Film Academy

This abandoned backlot of Beijing Film Academy can be found in the heart of Beijing. In the 12-acre site, BFA would film some of China's biggest blockbusters for more than 50 years. Among them, Chinese versions of American westerns and communist propaganda films.

The site combines western and eastern styles, probably as was seen in Shanghai in the 19th and 20th century. Hidden in the backlot, there are are props of warriors and Buddhas left over from older productions. Alleyways lead from more modern hutong scenes into ancient China. 

The studio lot was abandoned about 10 years ago. Some areas have been burned down or have fallen into serious disrepair, while huge lot doors are overgrown with tumbleweeds. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

The abandoned Disney's River Country theme park in Florida

Disney's River Country opened on June 20, 1976  and it was the first water park at Walt Disney World in Florida. Positioned on the shore of Bay Lake, it featured a rustic wilderness theme, complete with rocks and man-made boulders. Using a unique water filtering system and a a half-acre (2,000 m²) sandy bottom,the park featured a natural-looking man-made lagoon. 

During the 80's, Disney's River Country was struck by 3 tragedies. In 1980, an 11-year-old boy was killed by a deadly infection caused by a brain-eating amoeba which is found in warm bodies of fresh water. Then, in 1982 and in 1989 there were two drownings. However, and despite the competition by Disney's two newer and larger parks, Disney's Typhoon Lagoon and Disney's Blizzard Beach, visitor numbers didn't suffer. 

As it did every year, the park closed at the end of the warm-weather season in November 2001, with the expectation that it would reopen in spring of 2002. However, after the September 11 attacks, there was a decline in business across Disney World, with many parks cutting back their hours and many events being cancelled. In April 2002 Walt Disney World announced that River Country might reopen if there is enough demand. Soon, the park fell into disrepair and in 2005 Disney announced that the park will never reopen. It is only the second Disney park to shut down (the other is Discovery Island, which similarly was left to deteriorate rather than be demolished.

SEE ALSO: More abandoned amusement parks and abandoned theme parks around the world // More abandoned places in California // More abandoned places in the United States // LIST OF ALL DESERTED PLACES
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Monday, April 3, 2017

The ruins of Darul Aman Palace of Afghanistan

King Amanullah Khan of Afghanistan (1919 - 1926) was known as a reformer and modernizer of the middle eastern country. During the last years of his reign he envisioned a new capital city, Durul Aman, that would be built about 10 miles (16 kilometers) outside Kabul, and connected with it by railway. 

Darul Aman Palace, that would be used as a future parliament, an imposing neoclassical building, was one of the first to be built on a hilltop, overlooking a flat, dusty valley in the west of Kabul. The palace, however, was left unused for many years after religious conservatives forced Amanullah from power and halted his reforms. 

The palace was gutted by fire in 1969 but was restored and became Afghanistan's Defense Ministry, until it was set on fire again during the Communist coup of 1978. The worst though came during the early 1990's when Mujahideen factions fought for control of Kabul after the end of the Soviet invasion. Heavy shelling by the Mujahideen left the building a gutted ruin. 

After the US led invasion of Afghanistan in 2003, there were plans for restoration of Darul Aman Palace in order to house the country's parliament however no work ever took place. In 2015, a new parliament building was built by the Indian government opposite to Darul Aman Palace.

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