A few miles off the coast of Japan lies "Battleship Island," or Gunkanjima (軍艦島), the Japanese nickname for Hashima Island, due to its resemblance to the Japanese Tosa battleship. The island was formerly a densely populated coal mining town, purchased by Mitsubishi in 1890, but by the 1960s the coal was running out, and in 1974 the island was quickly vacated as Mitsubishi offered residents jobs elsewhere. Now, the island is an urban explorer's dream, though the island is not completely open to the public for tours. Last year, Google trekker walked the island, providing a virtual tour of the island. And if the roughly 40 year old ruins aren't foreboding enough, Bryan James put together a Chrome experiment called Hashima Island: Forgotten World, based on the Google maps tour of the site.
The drought in California has brought about a number of things, from exposing part of Mormon Island, an old mining town that has partially emerged from Folsom Lake (news coverage clip; aerial view of a re-emerged bridge with overly dramatic music; a tour of the exposed ruins), to being good news for gold prospectors. But if there's too much of a crowd in the Sierra Nevada foothills, you can always dig for gold in New York City (alt: YouTube), in the cracks of Midtown's Diamond District with Raffi Stepanian.
Nightwatch: The Haunting Light Painted Nightscapes of Noel Kerns: Dallas-based photographer Noel Kerns specializes in capturing haunting night scenes of ghost towns, decommissioned military bases, and industrial abandonments. His creative use of different colored lights combined with moon light helps these old abandoned places come alive as vivid nightscapes. [...] By very carefully planning out his shot and using flashlights, strobes and colored gels to strategically add light, Kerns captures the final product in-camera during exposures that last, on average, one to three minutes — very little, if any, post-production is done at all. [more inside]
For Anting New City, China asked for an idealized theme park of a Teutonic village, but instead they got a modern Bauhaus inspired ghost town. Only about 1,000 people live in this Shanghai mega-suburb that was built to be home to 50,000 residents. (via)
Ghost town in Belgium will lose its street art when it ceases to exist. "For 700 years, Doel stood near Antwerp along the Scheldt River in Belgium. As Antwerp expanded in the 20th century, its port needed more space, and Doel quickly became a target for demolition. Trying to force residents out, the government scheduled demolitions multiple times, but were beaten by popular protests from the 1970s through the 1990s. But despite the will of the people, Doel could not be saved and in 1999, the town was officially scheduled for complete demolition. Since that time, residents have trickled out, but artists have made their way in. As more of the town became abandoned, street artists from across Europe came and began to debut their works around Doel." [more inside]
Doodletown, NY, from the Dutch "dood dal" meaning "dead valley" a ghost town since the 1960s, lies just an hour north of New York City in Bear Mountain State Park [more inside]
"Places like Picher are why Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980—better known as the Superfund bill." - Wired Magazine on the most toxic town in America, Picher, OK , and the people who still live there
Cairo, Illinois is mostly abandoned. It was once a thriving city of 15,000, but the Mississippi barges don't stop there anymore, and racial turmoil, including a three-year boycott of white-owned businesses that refused to hire black workers, killed the town's economy. The Cairo Project, from Southern Illinois University, is a good overview of Cairo's history and its current situation. Can punk label Plan-it-X start a rebirth by moving to Cairo and opening a coffeeshop? If it helps, there's still good barbecue.
California City is the 3rd largest city in California (geographically), home to California's largest open-pit boron mine, a privately-run Federal Prison, and only 8,835 residents. Originally planned as a "large master-planned leisure community" of up to 1 million people, such growth never materialized, and the remains of the undeveloped streets and cul-de-sacs presage images of the current housing crisis, and are a modern, uniquely American version of the Nazca Lines.
Off The Grid: Life On The Mesa. A new documentary explores life in 15 square miles of northern New Mexico. With no cops, no official authority, and barely any understanding of who even owns the land, a special environment has arisen. Hippies, rednecks, and other assorted loners exist in either the last outpost of true American freedom or "the largest outdoor insane asylum" - and then they are tested by self-proclaimed revolutionaries with their own idea of how to run things. Check out the official MySpace page for the trailer and some clips.
Hart Island is a tiny island in Long Island Sound, NY. Formerly the site of a prison, it contains an active Potter's Field with over 700,000 people buried in it, a ghost town, abandoned Nike Missile silos, was the site of a Civil War POW camp, and a long-abandoned sanitarium. It's the subject of a documentary, and has guest starred in at least two movies.
Tour America’s Toxic Towns. First off is Times Beach, MO. Uncle Sam bought the town for $32 million, disincorporated it, and evacuated its 2000 residents to spare them from levels of dioxin that were possibly 2,000 times higher than the dioxin content in Agent Orange. Next up is Centralia, PA, completely evacuated due to an underground coal fire that is still burning and may burn for the next 100 years. More recently, American Electric Power purchased Cheshire, OH for $20 million. The town, which was plagued by sulfurous clouds, is now completely deserted. And who can forget the granddaddy of toxic towns, Love Canal.
NIcodemus, Kansas is the only remaining western community established by African Americans after the Civil War. The promise of freedom and land in the state of John Brown. Though prosperous in the 1880's, it began to fade. Its post office closed in 1953. It is now home to only 27 residents, with an average age of 80, but the "Promise Land" has hope. Wake Nicodemus, wake.
Ever wanted to get away from the neighbours? Any neighbours? Phelps Dodge, a mining company, is selling off Kitsault, BC, a remote company town built in the early 80s to support a mine that later went bust.
You've probably seen Modern Ruins, Forgotten New York, and even Lost America... but have you seen the abandoned island of Gunkanjima? [via Boing Boing]
Urban Exploration, Japanese-style: lavishly beautiful site documenting Japan's modern ruins, via gmtPlus9.