Friday Fun Links: Weird and Wonderful Abandoned Stuff

the Victoria Baths in Manchester, England

I am a big geek for the esthetics of ruins and the magnetism of abandoned places. I have been ever since my father started taking me to see the derelict Art Deco hotels of South Miami Beach in the 1970s, a decade before the massive gentrification of that Depression Era resort neighborhood got rolling. I just love this stuff. The crumbling Art Deco hotels with their drained or murky swimming pools led me straight to the weird, entropic apocalypses of J. G. Ballard, in whose books I always felt at home. He loved drained swimming pools, too.

Here are some links I can heartily recommend:

For a big dose of the Ballardian esthetic, here’s a set of photos of abandoned Soviet and U.S. space technology, gloriously rusting away.

Since it’s summertime, and we’re talking about J. G. Ballard, here’s a portfolio of abandoned swimming pools.

Cross J. G. Ballard with Ralph Kramden and you get… abandoned bowling alleys.

Cross Ballard with Gloria Swanson and you get (of course) abandoned movie theaters.

abandoned underground Soviet nuclear submarine pen


Cross Ballard with the Mole Man and you get incredibly weird abandoned underground installations.

Hurricane Katrina, by flooding Six Flags New Orleans, upped my awareness of the strange beauty of abandoned amusement parks.

Speaking of amusement parks and tourist attractions, the Florida of my boyhood days was chock full of them. Most of them are gone now, driven out of business by the Big Mouse. This site allowed me to revisit old favorites, long gone, such as Pirates World, the Miami Wax Museum (I had a great uncle who worked there), Circus World, and the Stars Hall of Fame.

Here’s an entire resort region that has been abandoned, the Salton Sea in California. Created by a hydrological mistake, the result of a dam accident, it thrived in the 1950s and 1960s, only to be doomed by its lack of natural fresh water replenishment, which turned the artificial sea into a salt bowl and killed off all its fish, leading to nearly all of its surrounding communities becoming ghost towns.

A massive movie set created for men in monster suits to destroy for a Godzilla film? No–it’s the Japanese island of Gunkanjima, also known as Battleship Island. Once a thriving coal industry city, the island was abandoned for years, officially off limits. Only now are people allowed to begin to return.

Because I’m also a naval buff, I had to include this site devoted to abandoned shipwreck sites, including an amazingly cool Soviet big-gun cruiser wrecked off the coast of Norway and left to rust.

Something abandoned that the local populace now wants to reclaim–the ironclad breastwork monitor H.M.V.S. Cerberus, built in 1868 for the Royal Australian Navy, sunk as a breakwater in Half Moon Bay in 1926. Now, after decades of pounding seas have crumbled the old hulk, there’s a campaign to save her.

Lastly, an abandoned artifact of a different sort–a script written by Alfred Hitchcock for a murder mystery film that was never released.

Now go abandon yourself to some good old-fashioned time wasting!

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