The staple of every horror film; the last thing you want to see on a walk in the woods; the pinnacle of human mortality: shivers down your spine, and instant goosebumps spring up at the mention of abandoned places.
Following one of the biggest nuclear disasters known to man, the city of Pripyat in Ukraine was abandoned. Over 50,000 people left the area, and never returned, causing the entire town to shut down. The only people who grace Pripyat’s streets these days are visitors, staying for brief amounts of time before leaving for their own homes. The old, empty buildings sit in various stages of decay; nature reclaiming what was originally hers, haunted by the radioactivity that drove people from their homes.
Once a bustling cosmopolitan theatre, the Michigan Theatre is now a ruin of its former self. Gone are the glamorous theatre-goers and flamboyant actors, now replaced by peeling paint, cracked walls, and disintegrating fabrics. The theatre is now being used a garage: a far cry from its days as the height of entertainment.
If amusement parks look garish and creepy by night, with flashing lights and looming faces, an abandoned one will put potential explorers off without trying. The New Orleans fun park was hit by a major storm in 2005, only five years after its opening. Since then, the park has sat empty, only ventured into by those with a taste for the uncanny, and the illegal. Plans have cautiously been put in place by the city, to turn it into a shopping centre.
While clowns and dodgems rank fairly high in the creepiness factor, America’s Christian theme park slightly pips it to the post. Turning holy into horror, the site has been abandoned since the 1980s. Graffiti stained walls and decaying structures aren’t the only ghosts held in the old park: a teenager was murdered in the grounds in 2010.
#5: Beelitz Military Hospital (Germany)
It’s an unusual rarity for an abandoned building to be able to sink into its decay without the aid of graffiti and vandalism, something that the Beelitz Military Hospital in Germany has managed. Nursing German soldiers through both world wars, this building will have seen more miracles and more death than many across the world. One soldier that walked within its halls was Adolph Hitler himself, after an injury during the Battle of the Somme, during the First World War.
The Hotel de Salto, nestled on the edge of the Tequendama Falls, situated just outside of Bogota, was abandoned 60 years after it opened, mainly due to the contamination of the Bogota river, and the subsequent decline in tourists. A huge number of people choose this spot to commit suicide, causing rumours of hauntings to run rife around the old hotel.
#7: Danvers State Hospital (Massachusetts)
During the 1920s and 30s, the hospital was a hotbed of controversial and unethical treatments, such as shock therapy, frontal lobotomies, and experimental drugs. Abandoned in 1992, several attempts have been made to renovate it, including demolishing some structures and replacing them with flats. However, all efforts have been avoided since, due to the flats, and the construction trailers going up in flames.
#8: Old Los Angeles Zoo (California)
From its opening in 1913, the old Los Angeles zoo had a cursed lifetime. A lack of funds to build cages meant that animals were kept in stockades, and only three years after it opened, the lions had to be put down, due to a contagious disease. The Health Department, which looked after the zoo due to their not being an onsite vet, tried to close it down several times, including after findings revealed that sewage was draining into the LA River. When World War One struck, the zoo was no longer allowed to feed the animals meat, due to restrictions. Horse meat was substituted for beef, but this didn’t work, and many animals grew sick and died. The zoo was later closed down, and a new one was opened nearby.
#9: North Brother Island (New York)
This isolated island was doomed from the start: it was first discovered in 1850, and used to house a smallpox hospital, to keep those infected away from the general public. The hospital soon expanded to housing other contagious diseases, until the late 1930s, when it was closed down. It took on a similar role from 1950 to 1960, where it became a rehabilitation centre: drug addicts were locked in rooms until they were clean. A shipwreck occurred nearby: 1,000 people died from the fire, or the ocean, and washed up on the island’s shores. North Brother Island is now a bird sanctuary, and off-limits to the public — with very good reason.
#10: St Nicholas Coal Breaker (Pennsylvania)
This old factory in America was once the biggest and most productive coal breaker in the world, producing over 25,000 tons of coal every day. It was last operated in the early 1970s, and has sat dormant ever since, having been replaced by a more modern version.
#11: Whitefield’s Tabernacle (Bristol)
This eerie church in Bristol, United Kingdom, has been standing empty for around 100 years, after being abandoned in favour of another church. Many renovation projects have been discussed, and the BBC have featured it on their Restoration series.
#12: Takakanonuma Greenland (Japan)
This amusement park in Japan attracts people from around the world to try to find it, and unravel the mysteries surrounding its background. It opened in the mid-1970s, but closed down a few years later: some say this was due to people dying; others that it was closed for refurbishment. The entire theme park is usually shrouded in a thick fog, and doesn’t show up on Japanese maps, rendering it almost invisible. Due to the recent nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Takakanonuma Greenland is in a hazard zone.