When I was very young I remember going to visit my aunt at her flat. It was about half an hours drive from where we lived but had felt much further. The surroundings were all a bit bedraggled, quiet and lonesome and the grey sky had made everything look a little sadder. More ghostly.
Right beside her flat was an abandoned train station, and for some reason, this is the part of that day that has always stuck in my memory. I can’t remember anything else we did, or ate, or talked about, other than the way staring down at those broken tracks from the road above made me feel.
I’m not sure if I’m alone in my fascination of abandoned places. That’s why a lot of us love zombie apocalypse movies, right? That eeriness of seeing energetic cities, bustling with life suddenly completely deserted. It’s that realisation of what life would be like without us in it; all our creations suddenly so alien.
Without a doubt though, the abandoned places I’m *most* fascinated with are theme parks. The big, caricature style kitschy faces of certain rides left still and staring into the empty grounds, their bright, pastel colours rusting and weird amongst the solitary environment. Then there are the tall, skeletal structures of coasters bending over the clouds and random carts, just sitting in overgrown grass. It’s all so creepy and yet beautiful too.
Although I’ve never actually visited an abandoned theme park, I’ve looked through pictures of the most famous ones endlessly and read their stories, entranced. It’s that extreme contrast, of these things that once would have been symbols of such charisma, excitement and life, now amongst deserted, grey landscapes. It’s the realisation that these objects are as motionless and lonesome as they always have been, and when taken out of context they make life feel like a surreal dream, filled with fragments of the uncanny.
I recently saw this beautifully shot video of abandoned city, Chernobyl. It’s by Danny Cooke and perfectly captures the haunting quality of such places.