The phrase “ghost town” conjures up an image of a dusty old mining outpost somewhere in the American West, a long-forsaken settlement with tumbleweeds and dirt streets and saloon doors that bang wildly in the wind. A phantom piano player is also frequently involved.
Despite the hoary clichés, this type of ghost town — usually one of hundreds of raucous boomtowns that sprouted up across the West in the late 1880s and were quickly deserted — is in great supply, some even remarkably preserved as museums.
And then there’s an entirely different ghost town, the modern ghost town. More sad in nature than their Wild West counterparts, these are places that have been marooned, some over time and some literally overnight for various reasons: toxic contamination and political conflict to name just a few. Shown here is Varosha in Northern Cyprus, featured later in this gallery.
We’ve rounded up seven notable modern ghost towns from across the globe that, while eerie, also serve as a collective testament to the missteps mankind has made — missteps that we hopefully won’t repeat. (Text: Matt Hickman)