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A World Without People – The Atlantic

June 1, 2017

For a number of reasons, natural and human, people have evacuated or otherwise abandoned many places around the world—large and small, old and new. Gathering images of deserted areas into a single photo essay, one can get a sense of what the world might look like if humans were to suddenly vanish from the planet. Collected here are recent scenes from abandoned construction projects, industrial disaster zones, blighted urban neighborhoods, towns where residents left to escape violence or natural disasters, derelict Olympic venues, ghost towns, and more.

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  • An overgrown, disused railway tunnel near the stop Pinzano al Tagliamento on the old Sacile-Gemona railway on October 7, 2016, in Pinzano, Italy.

    Andrea Spinelli / Corbis via Getty

  • Birds fly around and inside one of the two 500-foot cooling towers at the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant, in Hollywood, Alabama, on September 7, 2016. After spending more than 40 years and $5 billion on an unfinished nuclear power plant in northeastern Alabama, the nation’s largest federal utility was preparing to sell the property at a fraction of its cost.

    Brynn Anderson / AP

  • A terrace atop the Sathorn Unique building in Bangkok, Thailand, on January 25, 2017. The 49-story Bangkok high-rise was supposed to feature luxury condos for hundreds of newly affluent Thai families, but was abandoned unfinished when the Asian financial crisis struck in 1997. Now called the “Ghost Tower,” it’s a monument to mistakes made and an object of curiosity to a steady stream of visitors.

    Sakchai Lalit / AP

  • Plants grow on houses in the abandoned fishing village of Houtouwan on the island of Shengshan, east of Shanghai, on July 26, 2015. Just a handful of people still live in a village on Shengshan Island that was once home to more than 2,000 fishermen. The remote village, on one of more than 400 islands in the Shengsi archipelago, was abandoned in the early 1990s as first wealthy residents then others moved away, aiming to leave problems with education and food delivery behind them.

    Damir Sagolj / Reuters

  • An abandoned stadium used for baseball events during the 2004 Olympic games is seen through weeds at the old airport in Athens on July 16, 2015.

    Petros Giannakouris / AP

  • Storm clouds and snow blow from Lake Erie over the temporarily closed Route 5 highway in Lackawanna, New York, on November 20, 2014.

    Aaron Lynett / Reuters

  • Shuttered stores dominate the interior of the Schuylkill Mall which was scheduled to close soon, in Frackville, Pennsylvania, on May 17, 2017. Built in 1980 by Crown American, the Schuylkill Mall originally featured Kmart, Hess’s, and Sears as its anchor stores but is now mostly empty.

    Spencer Platt / Getty

  • An abandoned shopping center approximately one kilometer away from the huge fire and industrial blasts that rocked Tianjin, China, in 2015, seen on August 10, 2016. At least 165 people were killed in the giant explosions, which devastated a huge part of the northern port.

    Nicolas Asfouri / AFP / Getty

  • A view of the facade of an abandoned house in the village of Osurovo, Yaroslavl region, Russia, on October 24, 2016.

    Maxim Shemetov / Reuters

  • A feral cat sits on a sandbag barricade acting as a boundary for the green line, a UN-controlled buffer zone filled with abandoned structures, separating the divided Cypriot capital Nicosia on February 17, 2017.

    Iakovos Hatzistavrou / AFP / Getty

  • A decaying passenger plane of Cyprus Airways stands at Nicosia International Airport inside the buffer zone on the southern, Greek side of the divided city on March 7, 2017, in Nicosia, Cyprus. The airport was abandoned following the ceasefire of the 1974 war and today stands derelict.

    Sean Gallup / Getty

  • The passenger departure area at the deserted Nicosia International Airport on April 28, 2016, in Nicosia, Cyprus .

    Athanasios Gioumpasis / Getty

  • The wreckage of a van is overgrown by plants in Simacem village in North Sumatra, Indonesia, on November 16, 2015. The village was abandoned following the eruption of Mount Sinabung as it was considered too close to the still-rumbling volcano.

    Binsar Bakkara / AP

  • In this October 24, 2014, photo, an uninhabited old farmhouse sags in disrepair during a nor’easter rainstorm in Searsport, Maine.

    Robert F. Bukaty / AP

  • Frogs inhabit the murky waters of an abandoned training pool for athletes at the Olympic village on the northern fringes of Athens, Greece, on August 2, 2012.

    Thanassis Stavrakis / AP

  • The night sky is seen through damaged windows in the rebel-controlled town of Binnish in Idlib province, Syria, on September 7, 2016.

    Ammar Abdullah / Reuters

  • A deer rests in a rapeseed colza field near the village of Botskovichi, Belarus, on May 21, 2017.

    Sergei Grits / AP

  • A view of the abandoned Consonno, near Milan, Italy, on September 26, 2014. Built in 1962, Consonno was intended to be a large shopping and entertainment destination—a “city of toys.”

    Antonio Calanni / AP

  • Sand fills an abandoned house in Kolmanskop, Namibia, on July 23, 2013. Kolmanskop was a diamond mining town south of Namibia, built in 1908 and deserted in 1956. Since then, the desert has slowly reclaimed its territory, with sand invading the buildings where 350 German colonists and more than 800 local workers lived during its heyday of the 1920s.

    Jerome Delay / AP

  • An abandoned house after Hurricane Katrina stands in the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana, on August 18, 2015. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina triggered floods that inundated New Orleans and killed more than 1,500 people as storm waters overwhelmed levees and broke through floodwalls.

    Carlos Barria / Reuters

  • Swings in a kindergarten yard are covered in weeds inside the exclusion zone in Okuma, near Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, on February 13, 2016. Survivors exposed themselves to high levels of radiation five years ago while searching for family members swept away by the tsunami that triggered meltdowns at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant. The disaster in March 2011 killed nearly 16,000 people along Japan’s northeastern coast and left more than 2,500 missing. Family members continue to look for the bodies of their missing loved ones, when access to the area is permitted, as they still try to bring closure to their loss.

    Toru Hanai / Reuters

  • A general view of the derelict palace complex of the former president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (former Zaire), Mobutu Sese Seko, on May 15, 2017, in Nsele, some 40 kilometers outside Kinshasa.

    John Wessels / AFP / Getty

  • In this October 18, 2014, photo, the interior of concrete structures called “Quonset huts” crumbles inside the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Zambales province, northern Philippines. Naval Station Subic Bay used to be one of the largest U.S. military bases outside the American mainland. It was partly damaged during the eruption of Mount Pinatubo forcing American troops from the more severely damaged Clark Air Base to relocate at Subic. It was closed in 1992 after the Philippine Senate voted not to extend the lease on the facility.

    Aaron Favila / AP

  • A dog looks out of the window of an abandoned, dilapidated home in Havana, Cuba, on March 21, 2016.

    Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

  • Dusty keys sit in the mail slots of a hospital basement post office at the former Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, California, on October 2, 2014. The shipyard dates from the 1850s and was the first U.S. Navy base in the Pacific. At its peak in World War II some 50,000 worked on the island. Today about 4,000 either work, live or go to school there. A number of its buildings and facilities are still empty following the closing of the shipyard in 1996.

    Eric Risberg / AP

  • The stands are seen at the abandoned Olympic Canoe and Kayak Slalom Center at the Hellenikon complex in Athens on July 16, 2014.

    Yorgos Karahalis / Reuters

  • Plants have taken over the entrance of a house in Immerath, Germany, on September 26, 2014. Immerath became a ghost town to be demolished for the approaching brown coal mining. Inhabitants were relocated to a new build town.

    Frank Augstein / AP

  • Dogs walk in the empty Olympic Park on March 18, 2017, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Seven months after Rio hosted the first Olympic games in South America, many of the costly venue sites have been mostly abandoned in spite of promises from organizers that the games would provide a legacy benefit for the citizens of Brazil.

    Mario Tama / Getty

  • Trees surround an abandoned and decaying tenant farmer’s, or sharecropper’s, house in Moundville, Alabama, on October 25, 2015. Cotton farmer Shep Morris describes the decaying tenant homes of former farm employees as “scattered throughout the cotton belt and slowly fading away.”

    Brian Snyder / Reuters

  • Damaged homes are seen after clashes between members of Libyan pro-government forces, backed by locals, and Shura Council of Libyan Revolutionaries, an alliance of former anti-Gaddafi rebels, in Benghazi, Libya, on July 7, 2015.


  • Light enters through the holes of the roof of the abandoned and looted workshop building at the Penallta colliery in Hengoed, South Wales, on June 30, 2016.

    Emilio Morenatti / AP

  • A tree grows out of the door of an abandoned barn in the 30-kilometer exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in the abandoned village of Krasnoselie, Belarus, on February 17, 2016.

    Vasily Fedosenko / Reuters

  • This photo taken on May 22, 2017, shows new Kandi Electric vehicles parked long-term under a viaduct in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei province.

    AFP / Getty

  • Inside view of an abandoned 19th-century manor in Goussainville-Vieux Pays, 20 kilometers north of Paris, on September 9, 2013. In 1972, the farming village of 144 homes found itself under the direct flight path of Roissy’s Charles de Gaulle Airport when it opened. Residents started to abandon their homes, unable to endure the constant noise of the passenger planes flying overhead. Nowadays, only a few families remain living in what has become almost a ghost village.

    Charles Platiau / Reuters

  • A grey seal comes ashore at Blakeney Point on March 27, 2013 in Norfolk, England.

Source: A World Without People – The Atlantic


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