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.

SEE ALSO: More abandoned railway stations around the world // More abandoned places in the state of New York // More abandoned places in the United States // LIST OF ALL DESERTED PLACES
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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 Beyoncé visual album, Lemonade.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Baker Island: A deserted atoll in the Pacific Ocean

Halfway between Hawaii and Australia lies the lonely Baker Island, a tiny atoll with a shoreline of just 3 miles (4.8 km). The island is almost flat, with sandy terrain and four types of grass. There are no trees, fresh water or people. Baker Island is inhabited by seabirds, shorebirds, and marine wildlife, some of them endangered. 

Baker was discovered in 1818 by Captain Elisha Folger of the Nantucket whaling ship Equator, who called the island "New Nantucket". It got its final name from Michael Baker who visited the island multiple times starting from 1832. He claimed the island in 1855 and sold it to a group who later formed the American Guano Company. Two years later though, the United States government claimed Baker Island under the Guano Islands Act of 1856. Baker Island remains an unincorporated and unorganized US territory till today and it's part of the United States Minor Outlying Islands.

From 1859 to 1878 the American Guano Company mined the island's guano deposits. A short-lived colonization attempt was made in 1935. A lighthouse was built along with some buildings on a settlement called Meyerton. In 1943 the US Army constructed a 5,463-foot (1,665 m) airfield that was subsequently used as a staging base by Seventh Air Force B-24 Liberator bombers for attacks on Mili Atoll. The airfield was abandoned by 1944. From 1944 to July 1946 the island hosted a LORAN radio navigation station. 

Today, debris from past human occupation -mainly from the US Army occupation - is scattered throughout the island and in offshore waters. The most noticeable of them are the abandoned airstrip which is now completely overgrown with vegetation and the island's lighthouse. There is also debris from several crashed airplanes and large equipment such as bulldozers.

From 1974 the island became part of the Baker Island National Wildlife Refuge. In January 2009, that entity was redesignated the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. Baker Island is visited annually by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Monday, February 27, 2017

The abandoned Warner and Swasey Observatory of Cleveland

The Warner & Swasey Observatory was built in the early 20th century on Taylor Road in East Cleveland, Ohio. It was named after Worcester R. Warner and Ambrose Swasey owners of Warner & Swasey Company, which made precision instruments and telescopes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1919, the owners donated the observatory to the Case School of Applied Science of Case Western Reserve University that has been operating it ever since.

The building was designed by the firm Walker and Weeks and originally housed a 9.5-inch refractor. In the following years, the observatory grew to house several more telescopes and instruments, such as the 24-inch Burrell Schmidt telescope, as well as an astronomical library and a public lecture hall. 

In the 1950's it became apparent that Cleveland's light pollution was beginning to make cutting-edge research impossible. A new site, today known as the Nassau Station, was constructed 30 miles away in Geauga County. Although the large Burrell Schmidt telescope was moved there, a smaller, 36-inch telescope was soon installed at the Taylor Road facility. 

In 1978 the university built yet another observatory in Arizona (at the Kitt Peak National Observatory site) where its main telescope was moved. Nassau Station became the secondary observatory and the old observatory on Taylor Road was abandoned in 1983. The facility was neglected until 2005 when it was sold to a couple who planned to convert it into a residence. The plans however stalled when its new owner was convicted of mortgage fraud and sent to prison in 2007.

SEE ALSO: More abandoned space exploration facilities // More abandoned places in Ohio // More abandoned places in the United States // LIST OF ALL DESERTED PLACES
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Monday, February 20, 2017

The wooden churches of Russia

Starting in 2002, British photographer Richard Davies made yearly trips around the Russian north to take photos of old wooden churches. He was inspired by the work of Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin (1876 - 1942) a Russian artist, stage designer and illustrator of Russian Folk Tales who travelled to the North of Russia a century earlier.

During the summers of 1903 and 1904, the Russian Museum in St Petersburg sent Bilibin to a series of trips to the Vologda, Archangel and Olonets Provinces to collect works of folk art, which subsequently formed the basis of the museum's Ethnographic Department. Many of the photographs taken on these trips were used as illustrations in Bilibin's article of 1904 in the World of Art Magazine entitled 'Folk Art of the Russian North'. In the following years, these photographs were used to draw attention and support the restoration of those wooden churches. 

Recreating those trips, Davies found out that some of those churches have been lost. Some have been left to rot, some have been destroyed by lightning, countless others by ignorance, spite and neglect. Most of the churches remaining are in various states of decay. However, many churches have been saved by dedicated specialists and enthusiasts.

Davies hopes that his photographs, which have been exhibited around Europe and released in a book will raise awareness and inspire a restoration effort, similarly to Bilibin's photographs a century earlier.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Rio's Maracana Stadium, left deserted after the Olympics

Rio de Janeiro's iconic Maracanã Stadium has a very long history dating back to 1950. That was when it was inaugurated to host the 1950 World Cup where Brazil was beaten 2-0 from Uruguay. The total attendance of that game was 199,854, making it the world's largest stadium. 

In the following decades, Maracana hosted football matches between the major football clubs in Rio, domestic football cup finals, concerts, and sporting events, including the final round of 1989 Copa América, the 2007 Pan American Games, the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics

Although it was inaugurated in 1950, Maracana's construction didn't officially finish before 1965. In 1992, after the collapse of an upper stand during a football match which resulted in the death of 3 spectators, Maracana's capacity was greatly reduced and it was converted into an all-seater stadium. Another renovation in 2000 increased its capacity to 103,000, while a renovation that kept the stadium closed between 2005-2006 reduced it to 87,000.

Another major and costly reconstruction, which included the construction of a new roof, was launched in 2010 to prepare the stadium for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. 

After the Olympics, Maracana has 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 as the government has been hit hard by Brazil's deep economic crisis. According to media reports and photos, Maracana stadium has been looted and even cables have been stolen. 

Maracana Stadium is the latest victim of the Olympics curse, with sport venues and facilities left abandoned after a city hosts the Olympic Games. 

SEE ALSO: More abandoned Olympic venues around the world // More abandoned sport facilities // More abandoned places in Brazil // LIST OF ALL DESERTED PLACES
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Monday, February 13, 2017

The abandoned Rest hospital in south Wales

'The Rest' in Porthcawl, south Wales was established as a seaside convalescent hotel (nursing home) in 1862. It was built by Dr James Lewis, with the support of Florence Nightingale, the reformer of hospital nursing. Being an institution for working class people. the rest was maintained and supported by private contributors which included prominent landowners, industrialists, the trade union movement, friendly societies and a host of private individuals.

Among its first patients were the seven survivors of the Tynewydd Colliery disaster who had been trapped underground for 10 days. The Rest was rebuilt in the 1870s - 1880s and from 1915 it was used as an auxiliary military hospital. During the First and the Second World Wars, it provided care for 2,500 wounded soldiers from Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

From 1946, the Rest returned to civilian use as a 56-bedroom convalescent hotel (nursing home). The Grade-II listed building shut its doors in 2013. It is currently on sale with with a price tag of £4 million ($4.9 million) and has full planning consent for 68 apartments. 

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Monday, February 6, 2017

The abandoned Zarnowiec nuclear power plant in Poland

Żarnowiec Nuclear Power Plant was supposed to become Poland's first nuclear power plant. Planning began in the early 1970's, with extensive research with the purpose to find the most suitable location. After several years, a site near the village of Żarnowiec50 km (31 miles) northwest of Gdańsk was chosen. The site was near the Baltic Sea and Lake Żarnowiec which was to be used for cooling.

Construction began in 1982 with completion of the first reactor planned for 1989 and the second for 1990. These dates were later extended by a year. The plant was planned to occupy 70 ha of land area, while the entire complex with dedicated construction facilities and supporting buildings would take 425 ha. In addition to 79 buildings of the reactor-housing compound, the complex included hundreds of supporting facilities, including housing for the staff, a meteorological station and a railway station.

Any public opposition for the project was initially silenced by the introduction of martial law in 1981. After the Chernobyl disaster of 1986 though, environmental organizations started an anti-nuclear campaign which quickly gained widespread support. The protest which was also supported by political parties, included roadblocks and hunger strikes. In 1987, the government finally caved in and announced a referendum. Although 86,1% voted against completing the power plant, government chose to ignore the not legally binding referendum and continue the construction works.  

The project was finally abandoned in 1990 after all the supporting buildings and 40% of the first reactor had been built, with the government citing the unclear safety status of the nuclear plant, among other reasons. By that time, 84% of the construction budget had already been spent. 

After the project's abandonment, some of the equipment that had already been installed was scrapped while other was stolen. Local government tried to attract investments in the area by establishing a Special Economic Zone, but there wasn't enough success. Currently there are only 20 companies operating in the area while most of the buildings remain abandoned. The total losses resulting from mismanagement of the abandoned property over the years have been calculated as high as $2 billion. 

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