Ghost towns aren’t just reserved for former gold bust villages and other places that look like low-rent sets for Westworld. Cities all over the globe love letting buildings go to rot, including ones that were once bustling hubs of activity. From former sites of grand Olympic games to arcades covered in dust, there’s a lot of abandoned stuff out there that’s made all the creepier by how fun the places used to be.
Sochi Olympic Village, Russia
The Sochi Olympic Village was never the most pristine of homes for the worldwide games, but they managed to hold the entirety of the Olympics without too many attacks by stray dogs. Six months after the Closing Ceremonies, the town was empty. Huge hotels sat unused, and the grand buildings that had been packed with excitable sports fans were now eerily quiet. A five-story parking garage was created to fulfill the tourist demand. Now, there’s nary a car in sight, though there are a few broken toilets, so it’s not completely empty. The Olympic Village itself looks like Disney’s Main Street if Mickey and his friends had to move out due to rising crime.
In April 2017, the city hosted the Grand Prix and at least got some use out of their Autodrom. Hopefully those tourists enjoyed the double toilet bathrooms more than Olympic visitors. The Fisht Stadium that housed the Opening and Closing Ceremonies sat completely empty for a year but was remodeled to host games for the 2018 World Cup. So, there’s some hope that the home of one of the most expensive and controversial Olympics in recent memory might be revived from its ghost town status.
Belle Island Children's Zoo, Detroit
If any place definitely has a graffiti-covered, totally empty Children’s Zoo, it’s Detroit. And the Motor City doesn’t disappoint. The Belle Island Children’s Zoo was a popular destination by 1909, with 150 animals all in cages that now look completely inhumane. The bigger Detroit Zoo took a little of the glory from Belle Island, so it became a Children’s Zoo and kept on trucking. But by 2002, the mayor wanted to save $700,000, and though people overwhelmingly voted to save Belle Island, the mayor opened up another zoo in the same area instead. With no need for three full zoos in one decaying city, the Children’s Zoo was abandoned.
Now, its only visitors are YouTubers who break in and people who fly drones over the top. Oh, and graffiti artists. There’s tons of graffiti all over the children’s zoo. Nearly every indoor bit of flooring is covered in garbage as weeds and grass slowly take over the outdoor structures. There don’t seem to be any plans to restore the zoo, so if you really wanted to tag an animal jail, hurry to Detroit before all the good wall space is taken.
Wight City Arcade, Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight, just off the coast of England, once housed the bustling Wight City, an arcade by the sea. Now, arcades have faltered all over the world since most gamers would prefer to use their systems in the comfort of their own homes rather than waste quarters on the low-fi games of the ’80s and ’90s. But few arcades were left perfectly intact while they rotted behind closed doors.
Wight City Arcade, Bogey’s Night Club, and The Jolly Roger Restaurant all shared a building, and all shut down in 2012. The city planned to raze the building, but it stayed just as it was. Though the lights are off, none of the games were moved and look as though they’re just waiting for a new group of gamers that will never come. The arcade also had a small bowling alley, where the floors are rotting away. But one of the weirdest things is the pool table. It’s not particularly decrepit but looks like someone walked away in the middle of a game for a smoke and never came back. As of 2017, the site has just been sold with the intent to knock it down and probably build condos. Hopefully, someone will finish that pool game before the wrecking ball comes in.
Casino Constanta, Romania
When you imagine a grand casino built in 1910 and commissioned by King Carol, you probably think “was King Carol in the Land of Make-Believe or something?” No, King Carol was the first king of (real) Romania. He reigned at the turn of the century and had the Casino Constanta built in a beautiful style. From the outside, the building still looks immaculate, a lot better than any casino in Las Vegas, and there’s not a bit of neon to be seen. Sadly, the inside didn’t fare so well.
The city couldn’t keep up the legendary building and shut it down in 1990. Now, the floors have a lot more cat and pigeon poop than your typical casino. Whether that’s better or worse than the average smell of smoke and cheap cocktails is up to you. In 2012, the city said it would try to restore and reopen the property, but nothing’s been done thus far, and it definitely needs a lot of work. Plus, Hangover and Golden Girls slot machines are really going to clash with their marble work.
Cleveland had a little aquarium that was a very popular place from the mid ’50s to the ’70s. But with all that disco music and platform shoes with fish in them, people weren’t going to the aquarium anymore. Ticket sales weren’t covering costs, and when they found the aquarium would need major structural updates, they just shut it down. In 1985, they shipped all the sea life away and closed the doors. But they forgot to lock up.
The building was left abandoned, and people assumed that it was boarded up and impossible for passersby to enter. Instead, a news crew found the door was wide open, and they waltzed in with ease. Sure, there was a sign that said “Keep Out,” but oh well. Inside, the floor is covered in broken glass, and it’s apparent that squatters are living there. The residents even put up a provisional basketball hoop, so you know they feel at home. One room is full of student desks and a rotting sofa, which looks just as creepy as you’re imagining.
Salton Sea, California
The Salton Sea is not a sea but is salty as all hell. The sea was created by accident, when the Colorado River overflowed terribly and poured into the area for two years. Suddenly, this empty desert was waterfront property. Houses and hotels popped up along the banks of the sea, and in the ’50s, the state filled the lake with a variety of fish to lure fishermen. They opened up the biggest marina in Southern California, and the area was crowned the “Salton Riviera.”
Sadly, the ’70s struck, and the Salton Sea began its rapid decline. The sea had been stagnant for years with the sparse rains of the desert and complete lack of drainage. It wasn’t helped by the constant stream of runoff from local farms that left the water super salty and very contaminated. A great bloom of algae sucked most of the oxygen from the sea, killing fish by the thousands. Storms destroyed buildings, and the high heat on rotting fish made the once-popular place completely unlivable.
A brave few still live by the Salton Sea. If you’re looking for beachfront property, you can get it cheap, but you have to love beaches covered in cod skeletons. The place is now a lot closer to Mad Max than the French Riviera. Plus, the water line is constantly receding, exposing more and more polluted lakebed that’s easily whipped into the air by the unpredictable winds. Some worry that the drying Sea could affect air quality as far north at Los Angeles, over 150 miles away.
Rock-A-Hoola Waterpark, California
Everybody loves waterparks, right? People always need water in the desert, right? A desert waterpark! It’s the perfect idea.
Somehow, the moment of brilliance quickly turned into an abject failure. It all started at the man-made Lake Delores located in the middle of Mojave desert. In the ’60s, Bob Byers decided to build a bunch of waterslides that emptied into the lake. First it was a private waterpark of sorts, just for him and his family, but he opened it to the public and added additional attractions. By 1990, the park was closed.
But you couldn’t just leave a precious waterpark to melt away in the desert. So, in 1998, the park was renovated and turned into a ’50s-themed fun zone and renamed Rock-A-Hoola Waterpark. Sadly, in its first year, an employee took a slide into a half-full pool and wound up paralyzed. His lawsuit hit the park hard, and it closed down for good in 2004. All the fake ’50s decor stayed right where it was, now faded from the constant sun. The slides are breaking down, and the pools are bone dry. This former oasis is slowly settling into the desert dust.
Shark Museum, Japan
A shark museum sounds like a good idea, until you realize there are only so many Jaws posters you can put on the wall to keep people entertained.
This museum in Japan is carefully documented on Google Earth, so you can explore this abandoned museum at your own pace and with no danger of being shivved by a hobo. One thing to note is this abandoned building still looks fairly pristine. There’s no garbage on the floor, no graffiti, and the exhibits look untouched. This could never happen in America. Nothing left open in the US can go more than a day without having someone paint a penis on the walls. It’s the American way.
Grossinger's Catskills Resort, New York
If you’ve seen Dirty Dancing, you’re familiar with the exciting world of Catskills resorts. Grossinger’s opened in Liberty, New York, and slowly expanded till they had pools, golf courses, and a ski slope by the ’50s. The resort was big enough to get its own post office, and Grossinger, New York, was born. But once again, the 1970s came along to ruin things, and attendance at the resort dwindled. With lower prices of air travel, people ventured farther than the Catskills, and all the resorts in the area faced problems.
After Grossinger’s was sold in 1986, it passed from owner to owner, never coming close to its former glory. Now, this ex-popular place is empty. Graffiti covers the crumbling walls, and a fetid puddle sits where the glorious pool used to be. Moss grows the floor of the lounge, and the chairs look like they’re slowly sinking into the Earth. The current owners want to tear the place down and put up a casino, but there’s no telling when or if that will happen.
The Pontiac Silverdome, Detroit
If you’re a real fan of abandoned buildings, you have to get to Detroit. They don’t just have your boring boarded-up buildings or empty factories. Oh no. They have a full stadium that’s been left to the elements since 2002.
Once upon a time, the Pontiac Silverdome was home to the Detroit Lions, but they moved on to Ford Field, and the Silverdome became the stadium no one wanted. So, it sat there. In 2009, someone snapped it up for $583,000, and the city hoped the developers would bring new life to the formerly great stadium. Nope. They let it sit some more. By 2013, the roof was so damaged that the entire field and seats got soaked with rain, snow, and urban explorers.
The most action the Silverdome has seen in the last ten years? In 2016, someone thought the dome wasn’t sad enough, so they set fire to a small storage room filled with old Silverdome merchandise. Officials found evidence of arson, but they couldn’t judge damages because abandoned merch from an unwanted stadium doesn’t carry a clear street value. Things might be looking up for the Silverdome, though. They might be tearing it down. The development company that owns the building has plans to demolish it by the end of 2017. (Update: It didn’t exactly get torn down, but it did get imploded. Check it out above.) Luckily, Detroit has plenty of other abandoned places to be creeped out by.
Duke of Lancaster, Wales
A former first-class cruise ship sits and rots on the Welsh coastline. The Duke of Lancaster took passengers around the British Isles and Europe from 1956 to 1979. When it was time for the ship to retire, a company bought it and docked by Llanerch-y-Mor, Wales. They weren’t going to let such a grand vessel rot — they planned to re-christen the boat as The Fun Ship. There would be hotels, attractions, and oh so much fun! But after the owners got into legal problems with the city and the popular place wasn’t shaping up, they ditched the dream of “The Fun Ship” and let the Duke of Lancaster rust in the sea.
It’s been sitting there since the mid-1980s. John Rowley owns the ship and claims that legal difficulties have kept him from doing anything with the Duke for over 30 years. Rowley let street artists use the ship as a canvas with some really impressive results. Less impressive are the growing rust stains. While parts of the interior are falling apart, others give a glimpse into the fine world of ’70s decor. One lounge has all the bright red velvet chairs intact, while a hallway adorned with clown paintings is in great shape. Plus, it has a bonus abandoned arcade! This time with more water damage.
The Duke of Lancaster is a wonderful snapshot of a moment in time and a complete waste all at once.
This Theory Connects Atlantis And The Bermuda Triangle
The Sad Truth About The Man Who Advocated For Snake-Handling Rights
The Most Dangerous Rivers On The Planet
The Untold Truth Of Paranormal Investigator Ed Warren
The Truth About Ranked-Choice Voting
The Most Expensive Building In The World
Physicists Can't Explain Strange Particles Found In Antarctica
Study Reveals How Life May Have Formed On Earth
The Truth About Vladimir Putin's Daughters
The Craziest Creatures To Come Up A Toilet