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. 









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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.




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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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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Shanghai's largest vacant building: A mall in the shape of Pentagon


It looks just like the US Pentagon but it's double the size! This Chinese knockoff is the largest unoccupied building in Shanghai according to media reports. A classic case of Chinese overspending, Pentagonal Mart, located in Shanghai's Nanhui district, spans out a massive 70 acres (compared to 34 acres for the Department of Defense headquarters in Washington DC.)

Most of the building has been unoccupied since construction ended in 2009 due to the mall's confusing interiors. The mall failed to attract retailers and according to media reports hope remained alive in the form of the Shanghai Disney Resort which opened in June 2016 and it's located just 8 km (5 miles) away.




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Monday, March 27, 2017

The Scottish ghost village of Polphail

During the 1970's the UK government was looking for locations on the Scotland coast where it could construct sites to build oil platforms, based on forecasts for future demand. Polphail, on the west coast of the Cowal Peninsula, in Argyll & Bute was one of the locations chosen, as it provided a sheltered port where a a dry dock and a construction yard could be built. Land was purchased by the government and a village that could house up to 500 workers was built between 1975 and 1977. 

However, the village of Polphail was never inhabited. Structural design issues of the oil gravity platforms, cost implications and inflexibility in the sector at the time led to no orders being placed at the yard. Polphail was now a ghost village. In 2009 it gained some publicity as an artistic collective visited the empty streets of Polphail to create a graffiti art gallery with paintings of figures, faces, abstract designs and haunting images, before all structures are demolished.















Monday, March 20, 2017

The abandoned Buffalo Central Terminal



Buffalo Central Terminal opened on June 22, 1929 with a grand celebration attended by 2,200 invited guests. The new train station of Buffalo, New York had been built by New York Central Railroad to replace the several other train stations that served the city. 

Designed by architects Fellheimer & Wagner in art deco style and build in Buffalo's Broadway/Fillmore district, the station had been considered too huge even from its early days. The 17-story building consists of several structures some of which are connected, while others were formerly interconnected. The main concourse is 225 feet (69 m) long, 66 feet (21 m) wide, and 58.5 feet (17.8 m) tall. t (21 m) wide, and 58.5 feet (17.8 m) tall. The concourse included various rental spaces, a restaurant with a dining room, lunch room, and coffee shop, a Western Union telegraph office; and a soda fountain, along with standard station necessities. The train concourse is 450 feet (140 m) long and includes 14 high-level platforms. 

Although at first Buffalo Central Terminal served 200 trains daily, the Great Depression which began shortly after the terminal opened, as well as the rise in use of automobile, hurt passenger levels. World War II brought an increase in traffic but the decline continued after the war. In 1966, some secondary buildings of the terminal were demolished due to the decrease of passenger revenues. Amtrak tried to add new routes in the late 1970's but soon services moved to the smaller Buffalo–Exchange Street station as the Central Terminal was too expensive for the financially strapped passenger carrier. The last train departed the terminal at 4:10 am on October 28, 1979. 

On the same year the building was sold for $75,000 to a local builder with plans to convert it into a 150-room hotel named Central Terminal Plaza but he could not find investors for the project. He finally only created an apartment for himself and lived there until 1986 when he declared bankruptcy. Following that, the terminal changed numerous owners and fell into disrepair. Vandals destroyed whatever could not be stolen as the building wasn't guarded. A volunteer organization bought the terminal in 1997 for $1 and the assumption of approximately $70,000 in back taxes. Since then it has hosted multiple fundraisers and has been able to restore some small parts of the terminal.





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Thursday, March 16, 2017

An abandoned Soviet turbojet train

During the 1960's, Americans, followed by the Soviets, experimented with turbojet trains. The idea was that, like a jet aircraft, the train is propelled by the jet thrust of the engines, rather than by its wheels. Turbojet engines were built with the engine incorporated into a railcar combining both propulsion and passenger accommodation. As turbojet engines were most efficient at high speeds, they were applied to high-speed passenger services, rather than freight. 

The Soviets built their own turbojet train, known as SVL (High-speed Laboratory Railcar), in 1970. With a mass of 54.4 tonnes (including 7.4 tonnes of fuel) and a length of 28 metres (92 ft), it was able to reach a speed of 250 kilometres per hour (160 mph), although there were plans for it to reach 360 km/hour (224 mph).

Despite its high speed, the model was considered inefficient due to the very high fuel consumption of the jet engines which made it very expensive to run. Today, the test train still exists in a dilapidated and unmaintained state.





Monday, March 13, 2017

Rio's Olympic venues, abandoned 6 months later

6 months. That's how long it took for Rio's Olympic venues to fall into disrepair. It looks like Rio didn't learn any lesson from Athens, Beijing and Sochi, cities which built a great number of sport venues and facilities to host the Olympic Games without having any solid plans about the future. 

But it's not just the lack of planning. Brazil was already into an economic crisis while the Olympics were held there and the situation hasn't gotten any better. There are simply not enough money to maintain, or even guard the Olympic facilities, even if it's the Maracana stadium we're talking about. Once the largest stadium in the world, Maracana, has now remained empty and unused, as clubs and authorities argue over who should manage it. Although it is owned by the Rio de Janeiro's state government, officials have stopped paying for maintenance and security. According to media reports and photos, Maracana stadium has been looted and even cables have been stolen. 

Rio's the Olympic Park, which is now owned by the city of Rio, has remained deserted since the end of Paralympics as the city failed to find a new operator. Similarly, Rio's $19m Olympic golf has remained abandoned as the cost of maintenance is too high for the city. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

The ruins of Fort Macomb in New Orleans



Fort Macomb was constructed by the United States in 1822, outside the city of New Orleans. It was after the War of 1812, when the British forces invaded New Orleans, and the brick fort was constructed to protect the area. Although today the area is part of New Orleans, back in the day Fort Macomb was some miles outside the city.

The first name of the fort was Fort Wood, but it was renamed to Fort Macomb in 1951, for General Alexander Macomb, former Chief of Engineers and the second Commanding General of the United States Army

In 1861, early in the American Civil War, Fort Macomb was occupied by the Confederate States Army. A year later, the Union Army regained control of the fort as well as the city of New Orleans. In 1867 the fort was largely abandoned after the barracks got fire. It was finally decommissioned in 1871. 

Today Fort Macomb belongs to the state of Louisiana. Although it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places no reconstruction work has taken place and the fort sits largely abandoned and in need of structural stabilization. 

During the last years, Fort Macomb has been used in filming: for the first season finale of the tv series True Detective, for tv series Into the Badlands and for portions of BeyoncĂ© visual album, Lemonade.