Ghost Towns


Written by Olivia Patt
18 Sunday 18th September 2011

This isn't actually Tomorrow Town. This is a Sims town. Tomorrow Town hasn't been built yet.

Americans never do things by halves. Enormous drinks, ridiculously large televisions, extreme patriotism. And now, not content with normal size scientific experiments, they present us with this – Tomorrow Town. Being built in New Mexico, Tomorrow Town will be twenty miles square and capable of housing 35,000 people; but it won’t. The entire town is built to remain deserted. In the aftermath of the subprime mortgage crisis, you'd think there's already enough empty homes in the US. Pegasus Glocal, the technology company behind the town, will use it to test things such as new energy innovations and super wireless, apparently. While this is all probably true, the whole thing just screams conspiracy theory. We predict in fifty years’ time it will be revealed that the US government used it to house little aliens, but that’s just our opinion.


Another scary, company built ghost town is the Japanese island of Gunkan-jima. Bought by Mitsubishi in 1890 for the sole purpose of deep sea coal mining, high rise flats were built on the island to house workers and miners. By 1959, the island had one of the highest population densities ever recorded, 1,391 people per hectare in the residential district. However, when coal was replaced with petroleum as the energy source of choice, Gunkan-jima collapsed, and the mine was closed in 1974. Now, the island is completely deserted. Although you can’t travel there, we know it’s really creepy, because Battle Royale II was filmed there, and that film scared the crap out of us.

San Zhi

San Zhi in Taiwan is one of the few ghost towns with actual ghosts (maybe). Commissioned by the government, it was originally built as a futuristic playground for rich holidaymakers. However, construction was abandoned halfway through due to the accidental deaths of many of the workers. According to local people, the site is now haunted with the ghosts of these workers. The site hasn’t been torn down as they don’t want to disturb the spirits.


Pripyat has one of the sadder backstories. Built three kilometres from the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine, it housed 50,000 people in total; workers and their families. It was a fully working city, with homes, schools, shops and nurseries; supposedly quite a beautiful city. After the disastrous explosion on 26 April, 1986, Pripyat was evacuated and left deserted. Many of the residents died or were left with serious illnesses after exposure to horribly high levels of radiation. Pictured above is the funfair built that was to have been opened on 1 May; no-one ever got a chance to use it.


Oradour-sur-Glane was a pretty village in the south of France with just over six hundred residents, until 10 June 1944, when all of the inhabitants were massacred by Der Führer Regiment of the 2nd Waffen-SS Panzer Division, Das Reich. Like many incidents that took place during the Second World War, it’s a horrific story, with the death of men, women and children. There is still no generally accepted reason as to why the German soldiers chose to decimate this particular town, but it has been preserved as a memory of the war, and a reminder as to why world wars really aren’t a good idea.


Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong was originally a military fort. It was occupied by Japan in the Second World War, and after their surrender, squatters moved in. As neither Britain nor Japan wanted responsibility for it, it soon descended into lawless chaos. Mike Weatherley’s worst nightmare, basically. The high rise blocks grew so tall that sunlight did not reach ground level, and it was teeming with brothels, opium dens and sweatshops. It was eventually torn down in 1993, which means if you were planning on a naughty little holiday there, you can’t.


Last up is perhaps the most beautiful of all our modern ghost towns, Kolmanskop in Namibia. This luxurious city was built in the Namib desert in 1910, during the height of diamond fever. However, diamond sales soon dropped, and the casinos, clubs and palatial houses were left deserted by the 1950s. Now the sand defenses have been defeated and the gardens, streets and theatre have been  reclaimed by the dunes, leaving the town breathtaking to look at, if a little impractical to live in.

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  • Guest: rachidia
    Tue 20 - Sep - 2011, 11:07
    Two more: Varosha, Famagusta Real de Catorce, Mexico