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Transit Features Weekend Reads Public Sector

7 Abandoned transport sites

Shifting populations, fuel prices, politics, shrinking budgets or just a change in preferences can alter the state of transport systems -- or parts thereof -- so much, they become obsolete. That leads to crumbling tunnels, rusted vehicles, ghost structures and transit graveyards. Some sit rotting, while others are reclaimed or developed into cool public spaces. Take a look at these 7 abandoned sites.

The subway that never was

The Cincinnati, Ohio subway was on track to be one of the first in the country; now it's known as the country's largest abandoned subway tunnel system. In April 1916, bond funding was approved by city government.

Citizens were convinced the 16-mile-long loop would bring their city back to its mid-eighteenth-century glory, when it was a burgeoning city bigger than Boston and Philadelphia.


Cincy's underground scene isn't half bad #cincinnatisubway

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Building began by 1920 and was said to be doomed from the get go. Shoddy construction, World War I, prohibition, political corruption and the new-found popularity of cars brought the project to a halt by 1929.

Attempts to revitalize or repurpose the subway tunnels have only led to the city's continued maintenance, which is needed to buttress the highway above.

Time capsule

In an eerie sense, the Okutama Ropeway looks like it's poised to operate. The cable car system was completed as part of tourism efforts and once linked two sides of a manmade lake. It closed in 1960s, not long after it was built. Purportedly a well-known spot in Haikyo, Japan, the abandoned site is now a favorite of so-called urban explorers.

Unprecedented magnitude

The former site of Berlin Templehof Airport is 355 hectares -- larger than the entire county of Monaco. The airport building is approximately 1.2 km long. When constructed between 1936 and 1941, there was no other structure of that magnitude in Europe. Final flights occurred in 2008.


#berlin #berlin🇩🇪 #tempelhof #tempelhofairport #tempelhoferfeld

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The airport has extensive history and is famous for the Berlin Air Lift. The field is now a popular park and the buildings house the Berlin police, Berlin traffic control authority, schools and museum.

In 2015, Berliners saved Tempelhof from development, and it's now planned to turn the site into the Berlin Creative District.

Sinking ship

Weird New Jersey (NJ) may be a redundant phrase to some; in reality, it's a media outlet with a cult following specializing in uncovering oddities and abandoned places in the Garden State. That's where we find a profile of the Binghamton Ferry, a steam ship which once carried up to 1,000 passengers plus vehicles between Hoboken and New York City.

New bridges and tunnels in the late 1960s forced the Binghamton's route to be discontinued. Then, in typically Jersey fashion, the vessel became a restaurant and nightclub. Its owner was subsequently kidnapped, murdered and found in the woods on a highway embankment.

Another owner faced code violations; then came a couple suspicious fires, hurricane Sandy, and now, the Binghamton Ferry is half sunk awaiting its next life.

Abandoning the future

Masdar City, a planned metropolis of 2.3 square miles in Abu Dhabi, UAE, is meant to be a carbon-neutral city and location for businesses specializing in clean tech and environmentally-friendly products. Construction began in 2008 with an aim of finishing by 2015. Though, partially built and inhabited, financial difficulties have postponed the project's completion until 2030.

To be quite pedestrian and cyclist friendly and enable narrower, shaded streets, cars were banned in the initial design in favor of a "pod-based personal rapid transport system (PPT)." Though up and running in part, poor economics have eliminated expansion of the PPT.

A combination of electric and other clean-energy vehicles, along with connecting to Abu Dhabi's light rail and metro line will have to suffice. Private cars will still be highly restricted.

A higher love

Every inch of space in a city as dense as New York is premium, that's why buildings go up instead of out and how the High Line -- running from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues -- became an exemplary reclamation of an abandoned freight rail structure.

While owned by the city, the park is operated, maintained and mostly funded by non-profit Friends of the High Line. The High Line's old tracks are integrated with the new design, inspired by the landscape that took over when the trains stopped running.

Plantings were all chosen for their "hardiness, sustainability, and textural and color variation, with a focus on native species." The site is known for its history, gardens, views, food, well-being and art events.

Where have all the trains gone?

All those abandoned trains, planes and cable cars wind up somewhere too. Some are dismantled systematically. Others are left to nature like those identified by Urban Ghost in: "20 Eerie Train Graveyards & Abandoned Locomotive Cemeteries." You can even buy a locomotive if you have a $100,000 to spare.


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