Memory is such a fascinating thing. We not only tend to sometimes forget things we have known all our lives but we also end up having memories that are not even ours to begin with, or not even true at all. Things, people, places, and more are forgotten over time; and those forgotten places, people, things, and more can easily come back to us in an instant, in a flashback of sorts, or sometimes even in our dreams.
Speaking of dreams, the concept upon which the movie Inception works is true as well – the power of suggestion is so very real and so very huge! We can’t recall where we put our keys (most likely because we were not paying attention when we were putting them away); but without this specific memory problem, we would never again have the joy of discovering that $20 bill we put away in that page of a favorite book a while ago, right?!
Anyways, memory sure is fascinating, and since we do forget, we need aids to help us remember. Books are an excellent way to refresh our memories, and in the case of today’s featured book, to help us learn about places (known and unknown), and to ensure they don’t get lost forever.
Atlas of Forgotten Places
Title: Atlas of Forgotten Places: Journey to Abandoned Destinations from Around the Globe
Author: Travis Elborough
Maps By: Martin Brown
Publishers: White Lion Publishing (December 7, 2021)
Genre: Nonfiction (Adult) | Travel
Source: e-RC from NetGalley
Thank you the NetGalley and the publishers for the digital review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Explore the places that time forgot. Abandoned, mysterious, sleeping monuments around the world have been relegated to the margins of history, pushed off the map and out of sight.
From ancient ruins and crumbling castles to more recent relics – an art deco New York subway station, a Soviet ghost town in the Arctic Circle, a flooded Thai mall teeming with aquatic life – Travis Elborough takes you on a journey into these strange, overlooked and disappearing worlds and immortalises their fates.
Original maps and stunning colour photography accompany Travis Elborough’s moving historic and geographic accounts of each site. The featured locations are a stark reminder of what was, and the accounts in this investigative book help to bring their stories back to life, telling us what happened, when and why, and to whom.
Abandoned, beautiful, cool (or creepy or charming even), desolate, eerie, fascinating, grim, haunting. We can apply a combination of these adjectives (in some cases, all of them) and many more descriptors to any of the 40 forgotten places in Travis Elborough’s Atlas of Forgotten Places.
And Then More Thoughts
Elborough’s writing is beautiful and thought-provoking. Each forgotten place follows the format of a brief history, its current conditions, and sometimes a glimpse of its future. Stunning photos (I only wish there were more of them) as well as maps and drawings provide readers a more detailed look into the place, be it a building, a transport hub, or even an entire town.
This book divides its forgotten places by the following categories:
- Vacant Properties (like an orphanage and a nuclear power plant)
- Unsettled Situations (many of these are entire towns)
- Dilapidated Destinations (just what it says; one of these is the New World Mall in Thailand)
- Journeys Ended (train stations, a submarine base, etc)
- Obsolete Institutions (like a psychiatric hospital in Italy, and a smallpox hospital on Roosevelt Island, New York )
From remote rural areas to the heart of the biggest metros in the world, we take a journey through time and place via the pages of this book. I loved that the narrative shows the why and how each of these places came into use, and later disuse in the context of its society. We learn how changing political climates impacted some of these places, while socio-economic causes brought downfall for still others. Nature took its toil on a few, while neglect took care (not) of the others. A few others came to an end, and rightly so, but needed to be included here lest we forget the ugly truths.
No matter what or where the places are, they all have one thing in common. They need to be ‘not-forgotten’; need to be brought to light, to memory, and to keep alive the reasons these places existed (good, bad, or ugly).
Final Thoughts (of Travel to Forgotten Places, and other things too!)
I know I would love to visit Sammezzano Castle(Italy), Hachigo Royal Hotel(Japan), and the Crystal Palace Subway(London).
The only ones I can visit, at the drop of a hat, so to say, are:
- Alcatraz Prison (yes, not yet visited this though I planned to a zillion times over the past two decades), and
- the Salton Sea Rivera (super interesting; coincidentally, a news article about reclaiming this just appeared today).
One forgotten place that I am unlikely to forget is Akampene Island in Uganda.
Whether you love architecture, history, geography, travel, or simply love to read, you will love this book. A gorgeous, poignant, must-read!
Now I am off to read the others in the series now (yes, there are three more!)
Get It Here
Related Reading on Forgotten Places, Deserted Places, and more
- The Most Stunning Abandoned Places On Earth (CNTraveler)
- Abandoned in the United States (AtlasObscura)
- 10 Deserted Places and Why They Were Abandoned (MentalFloss)
- Discovering Local Wonders: A Trip to Awesome Balmy Alley (Travel post)
- Atlas of Adventures: Wonders of the World (Book Review)
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, do you love atlases? Or reading about fascinating places like the one in this compendium? Have you read or heard of the featured book or others in this series (Unexpected Atlases)? Do you have any recommendations for similar books? And of course, have you visited any of these places? Or similar ones anywhere? As always, any and all thoughts, comments, and suggestions are welcome!