The world has seen a serious increase in roads over the past century, in accordance with the increasing rise in cars, trucks, and SUVs, and the overall increase of people in the world. Roads, of course, stretch back into history a very long way, though paving roads has been a relatively new thing. The first cobbled street was built in Rome ages ago, saw popularization is cities like London (where they are still in great use), but were then outmoded by asphalt and tarmac.
Asphalt and tarmac roads first came about in the 1800s first in Paris, and then quickly became popular and overtook the roads of the world. Though often times cities and countries enact huge infrastructure expansions and overhauls, oftentimes need and demand, along with things like consolidation, the building of newer more efficient freeway systems and highways, leads to the abandonment of many roads, streets, and even obsolete highways.
This leads to vast areas, ribbons of tarmac, left to decay and slowly be taken over by nature, by the weather, the elements. These ghost roads and highways are fascinatingly chilling, and there are a number that are still drivable, making for a fascinating car ride. Across the globe these roads are found in vast numbers, sometimes small byways, sometimes ribbons of curving mountain highways, other times broken up tarmac splitting a forest in half, quickly being overtaken by the trees, or highways covered end to end in graffiti. Let's take a look at 25 of the world's most fascinating and striking roads.
Dubai saw a massive explosion of wealth because of the oil located within its borders. And so, with that money, they created a massive city centered around tourism and a very specific kind of lifestyle.
Outside the city, though, there isn't much of anything at all. While massive roads were build to accommodate high traffic, there just isn't any, and the high tides of oil have receded, leaving most things as they are, without expansion. This road is left incomplete, slowly covering with sand dunes, with nowhere to go to and nothing to connect it.
Throughout Europe these abandoned stretches of borders are found, because once upon a time, visas and papers were needed to travel, no matter how close. Since the introduction of the Schengen Zone, this allowed for free travel.
One of the evidences of this uniting is these abandoned border crossing control stations. With the ability to travel freely between countries, there was no longer a need for these kinds of stations, and they've been left behind, turned into ghosts.
This highway is quite popular and well known amongst the people who live near and around it. A long stretch of highway was left abandoned near Centralia, Pennsylvania, and the result is a wide flat area that cuts through the forest, perfectly paved, with banking turns and wide stretches.
It has become known as the Graffiti Highway, due to the fact that huge stretches of it are coated with graffiti, as this picture well evidences. It is a bucket list place for anyone who loves abandoned things, or art.
This dilapidated road in Japan has clearly seen better days in its time, and it is quite evident that it was abandoned long ago. Most of what is left at all is the guard rail and a cohesive length that's both flat and devoid of trees.
For many, the sight of a road like this just beckons to be explored, it draws them in, to walk down the bygone boulevard. Who knows where it could lead, it could be somewhere amazing, just waiting to be unveiled. So what are we waiting for?
The West Side Highway in New York is a highway that no longer exists in any form. In a big city that's constantly on the move, on the path of growth, things don't stay abandoned for long. It was demolished and remains as a mere thought, a mere picture.
But for a good long while it remained closed and abandoned, seeing no traffic beyond pedestrians, like the two people far off in the distance sauntering along the length of the highway, unconcerned for any traffic. Shame it's gone, too, looks like a wonderful view of the city and the port.
It's often that before a road can even see any kind of traffic or use, it's left behind and abandoned. This is the case with this overpass system in Penang, where it was abandoned long before it could even be put into use.
Perhaps there was a recession, or a lack of funding, or perhaps there was no true need for it, and efforts were sent elsewhere. In any case, this is a fairly common occurrence, and in this case all that remains of the abandoned highway is a partial ramp and some ivory monoliths amongst the rain forest.
The abandoned areas all along this stretch of highway near Centralia, Pennsylvania are quite numerous, and in many places the highway has become broken down, tarmac splitting apart with the endless shifting of the earth.
The highway here has nigh split in half, allowing dirt to show, and allowing plants to grow. As more and more vegetation grows in the cracks of the tarmac, the further and further it will be broken down. Soon only a wide level area will remain, but until then, it can still be seen that "someone loves dinner."
This bridge has been left forgotten, becoming faded and dingy with time. The late dusk lighting only makes things seem all that much creepier, calling to mind post-apocalyptic scenes, making you wonder if the entire city is abandoned, and how many people remain, if any.
While the city isn't actually abandoned, this bridge and road on either side of it has not seen regular use in quite a long time, with a tree having grown to quite a significant size on the shoulder of the road, and cracks showing that time has not gone easy on this stretch of asphalt.
Somewhere in a scrubby arid landscape this road lies in hiding, having been left behind, forgotten, forsaken, left to the inevitability of the elements, the foliage, and time itself. The tarmac, once it begins to crack, is a perfect nesting place for plant seeds.
And once those seeds take root, plants begin to grow out of the tarmac, foliage growing and overtaking a once blank canvas. Season after season this happens, and as more cracks form, more plants grow, and the foliage begins to reclaim the asphalt.
This abandoned town in Doel, Belgium, once held hundreds of people within its buildings and houses. Yet, the people couldn't stay, there wasn't enough to keep them here, and all that remains of the town is the empty shell that once held its populous, and the empty streets that serviced them.
And, of course, the occasional visitor who is only there to see the sad shell, to become enamored and fascinated with the forgotten stories woven throughout, left to whisper alone into the night. And those who change the face of the town with graffiti and street art.
The bright and lively scene of the city shines over the foreground in gleaming orange, lit up by the setting sun, with sterile faces sparkling with life. In the foreground, though, things are different. Much different, as the evidence of human life is quite lacking.
Without humans to keep up maintenance of their roads, a different form of life has taken back over. Foliage and vegetation thrives in the absence of human interference, along with all the animals and creatures that call the dense foliage home. While humans have forsaken this road, mother nature hasn't.
This fox wanders the streets of an abandoned town in Ukraine called Pripyat. Pripyat was abandoned overnight, due to a massive nuclear fallout, and to this day remains almost entirely destitute and empty. The roads are abandoned along with the town.
A vast network of buildings remains, with stories being told left mid-sentence inside the houses. Tables still set, everything still in tact, as if the people all vanished in a brief moment. For all intents and purposes, they did. The city is still dangerous to even visit.
This overpass was never completed, and remains completely abandoned in Charlestown, Massachusetts, where a concrete barrier and a fence hasn't proved to be enough to keep people out, with the fence broken and missing a section.
It is a bit dangerous to go out on this, as it is incomplete and has a completely unprotected ledge at the end, but if extremely careful, it might be worth the view of the city at the end, high above, looking down on the streets that are being used, and not abandoned like this one.
This road looks like its become swallowed up by the land itself. On the edges, the foliage is creeping in, slowly, eating away at the borders, but then all of a sudden the entire road just disappears, swallowed up by the Earth.
The result is a surprisingly picturesque dead end, where in fact the end of the road signifies so much more than that, it signifies and embodies a beginning, a new start, where the foliage has a chance to take over once again, and have a new start.
Washington seems like the last place on Earth that would have some kind of desert within it. When thoughts of emerald green foliage, foggy coastlines bordered with temperate rain forests, rainy cities like Seattle nestled amongst the edges of the Puget - sounds all come to mind first.
Yet, in central Washington there is significantly less rain, and an arid desert scrubland emerges. Here is where this road lies, abandoned and forgotten, being taken over by sagebrush and inevitability. Soon this will only be a leveled gesture to where a road used to be, once upon a time.
This picture of a wide and abandoned road is located within the Exclusion Zone of the infamous Chernobyl Disaster, by far and away the most catastrophic instance of radiation fallout on such a huge scale in the history of mankind, and likely the Earth.
All the cities and roads inside of the Exclusion Zone are virtually abandoned, due to the fact that no one can live inside the area without risking serious health dangers. An entire network of towns and cities, especially those built because of the plant, were abandoned in one wild night.
Jebel Jais in the United Arab Emirates, according to Jalopnik, is a massive stretch of highway that is almost entirely unused. While not strictly abandoned, it was built during the huge boom of oil that led to the wealth of the country. The government built this highway as part of an elaborate tourist area that never came to fruition, leaving a wide empty mountain road to nowhere.
The result is a driver's paradise, a perfect twisting and empty road for all who love driving to come test their mettle, with switchbacks and perfect wiggles and hills, to keep a grin on your face all day.
The empty highway pictured is surrounded by the greenest of shallow, undulating hills dotted with copses of green deciduous trees, and the scenery is absolutely stunning, and remarkably peaceful. In the winter, the soft blankets of snow would only increase the silence and serenity.
The pastoral views are only intercepted by this stretch of highway, which, if not abandoned, would destroy the peace. But since it is a ghost stretch of highway, it almost increases it, as we're used to a highway signifying noise and pollution, the opposite of peace.
Just outside of Madrid is a long stretch of highway known as the Ghost Highway, and the reason it gets its name is primarily due to the fact that it's left to decay in complete abandonment.
The red dirt is particularly striking, and so is the lone person riding their bike along the highway, wisely sticking to the shoulder even though there is virtually no danger of any kind of car or traffic interfering with the ride. If this was my route to work every day, I wouldn't mind in the least.
The Reunification Highway is a fascinating highway that remains completely unused, and while not forgotten, not ever used either. It was an ill-advised decision as well, for the majority of infrastructure in North Korea was centered around railways.
The result is small communities that it passes by merely never using it, as they most often cannot afford cars, or have no need for them. The road is not technically abandoned, but it sees little to no traffic on a day to day basis.
Sideling Hill is an abandoned tunnel in Pennsylvania that has not seen traffic in a very very long time. The picture above was taken many, many years ago, from a nigh forgotten era, and even in this photo the road remained abandoned.
To this day, it still remains abandoned, having seen a significant dilapidation due to the effects of nature and time, the weather, exposure, and the elements. Many enjoy visiting it to see the abandoned state of it, along with the ability to be in nature but still see evidence of habitation.
The Old Dixie Highway in Florida is a nigh ancient stretch of highway that, in this section, is made entirely of bricks. The highway was part of a nationwide effort to begin connecting parts of the country together. It saw fruition in the early 1900s, and since then has seen parts of it lying along the same routes of modern highways.
Other parts of it though, have been left behind, forgotten, abandoned and left behind as a small sliver of a history not rewritten but written over, time and again, by countless millions of people, an ever growing and unsustainable populous.
This is a particularly cracked and dilapidated section of the abandoned highway system near Centralia, Pennsylvania, where the shifting of the landscape and the wearies of time have not treated it very kindly. In the warm afternoon after a cold rain, it seems like the black tarmac has soaked up enough heat to begin to steam.
It gives this scene an almost primordial look, and the fall colors only make things even more captivating. There are also the "ancient hieroglyphics", graffiti, of the people who live nearby. One day people will consider graffiti and street art as just that.
Dubai saw a massive explosion of wealth and growth with the oil boom that sourced its beginnings to the United Arab Emirates, yet that boom has long since passed, leaving a country that is by no means abandoned, but merely occupying a small sliver of what it was planned and built for.
This road is one of many that stretches out into the empty desert, very rarely seeing traffic of any kind. No traffic, that is, except for the grains of sand that travel across it in vast numbers, shaped by the wind into dunes that cover the road in beautiful strips.
Not all abandoned things exist far outside the fringes of current society, or only appear in places that once held many but no longer hold any. No, in fact, there are empty shells and skeletons of things even in the most bustling of places.
Just such a place is in Portland, Oregon, where there is quite a healthy and growing population of people. But here, is an unused and unfinished stretch of highway overpass, where it perhaps once served much traffic, but no longer does. Instead of finishing the project or tearing it down, it remains empty, a shell of what it could be, watching over the city.
Sources: Reddit, Max Globetrotter & Abandoned Kansai