The Allure of Abandoned Places


What is it about forgotten places that is so fascinating? For as long as I can remember, I have been intrigued by alleyways, empty houses, and dirt roads that lead nowhere. Wherever I go, I notice the broken glass and rust of wear, tear, and memory. Maybe that explains my unending study of history and predilection for finding myself among ancient ruins whenever I venture out of the country. Maybe I’m drawn to these places because I’m a writer — we are the compass and the untold story of a left-behind place pulls us like a magnet. Maybe it’s the same reason we stare at the stars on a dark, cold night — because we are enthralled by the things we can never know.

Or maybe it’s deeper still.

Maybe abandoned places and things call out to me because they weren’t always like that. Someone once stood here, on this spot. Someone once knew the story of these crumbling walls. And standing where they stood and trying to piece together how these train tracks were left to decay and become overgrown connects me — for a moment — across time and space to another person who lived. Abandoned places are the crumbs that drop from lives hastily lived and I can follow the trail, or try to. Maybe it isn’t about the place at all. Maybe it’s simply another way we humans seek to connect with one another — and about the possibility that someday, another curious soul will stumble upon this artifact and wonder.

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Jonny Eberle is a writer, photographer, filmmaker, and wanderer off of beaten paths. You can find him on Twitter. Sign up for his superb mailing list here.

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