Bygone Tourist Sites Our Grandparents Could Visit But We Can’t See In Their Original Glory Anymore
Oh the good old days. It seems like every day we are hearing that phrase as grandparents share some of the amazing and epic things they got to see and do, leaving us seething with jealousy. Unfortunately, this list of breathtaking tourist attractions won’t subside that jealousy. Take a look back at the “good old days” of travel, and see all the spots that no longer exist.
1. Statue of Liberty Torch
Visiting the Statue of Liberty while in New York City is basically a right of passage. If a person goes on a family vacation to the Big Apple and does not board the ferry boat and get one of those pointy, green, foam Liberty hats, did the visit to NYC ever really happen?
And for the families that are unafraid of heights, the option to climb all the way up to view the Manhattan skyline from Lady Liberty’s crown is a hard opportunity to pass up. So just imagine the sprawling views from her torch! Unfortunately, for now we’ll just have to imagine the views, because the climb to the torch has been labeled too dangerous for tourists since 1916.
2. The “Underwater Amazon”
Up until recently, the coral reefs off of the Indonesian coast of Raja Ampat, known as the “Underwater Amazon” were regarded as some of the most spectacular reefs the world had to offer. But that all changed in the most devastating way in 2017.
In March of that year, a British cruise ship accidentally crashed into the Underwater Amazon when it veered off of its usual route. The crash caused 1,600 square meters of the reef to be damaged. Experts say that it could take 100 years for the reef to rebuild, so it could be a while before anyone can take a tour of this breathtaking reef in all its pre-impact glory.
3. The Azure Window
For anyone who might not have seen the Malta’s Azure Window gracing the digital pages of paradise destination travel blog, or on seemingly-endless Instagram feeds of so-called “influencers,” they might recognize this beautiful rock formation from its brief featuring on HBO’s Game of Thrones. And it’s a good thing that the captivating limestone arch was captured on film before it disappeared forever.
After withstanding hundreds of storms throughout the years, it took one storm in March 2017 for one of the world’s most beautiful tourist attractions to come crashing down. But while Mother Nature herself was responsible for taking away this incredible landmark, some of the other bygone tourist attractions on this list met a much more shocking demise.
4. Kaimu Beach
Kaimu Beach in Hawaii may be more popularly known as one of the island state’s world-renowned black sand beaches. The surprising and almost otherworldly sight of a beach covered in black sand instead of the usual glowing beige attracted thousands of tourists until 1990. Then, it all went up in flames. Literally.
In the early 1990s, while tourism was erupting, so was something else, specifically the legendary Kilauea Volcano. Lava from the eruption left Kaimu Beach and nearby town Kalapana buried under 50 feet of lava. Locals have been able to rebuild the town, but unfortunately the beach did not survive the devastation.
5. Vance Creek Bridge
It seems like “doing it for the ‘gram,” a phrase coined after Millennials began performing some death-defying stunts so that they could post outrageous Instagram pictures, has taken on new heights. And we mean that literally when it comes to the Vance Creek Bridge, the second tallest railway bridge in the U.S.
The bridge, originally built by a logging company and later abandoned, attracted tons of people looking for an adrenaline rush. But in 2014, the owners of the property shut the whole thing down out of fear that someone might get hurt trying to cross the bridge. Seems like some tourists were taking it a bridge too far.
6. New York Hippodrome
It’s not precisely that visiting the location of the old New York Hippodrome in Manhattan is impossible these days, but it might look just a little different than expected. That is because the once sprawling theater and cultural center is now something very different.
The Hippodrome Theater was once the biggest theater in the world, boasting that it could hold 5,000 people. In its prime, the massive building hosted circuses, movies, and even performances by Harry Houdini before it finally closed its doors in 1939. Now visitors can still see the Hippodrome, but it has been transformed into an office building. Now that’s a bummer.
7. Legzira Beach
On this list of bygone tourist attractions are an incredible set of golden arches. And no, we’re not talking about a fast food restaurant. We are talking about one of the most beautiful sights in the world. Legzira Beach was known for its arched rock formations that made it a popular tourist attraction in Morocco, especially for viewing sunsets. But recently that all changed.
One of Legzira’s two famous arches fell under its own weight in 2016. But while one of the arches is still left standing, experts say that it is only a matter of time before the next one meets the same fate and comes crashing down. So plan a trip to Morocco fast, before this natural beauty is gone.
8. The Jeffrey Pine
If a tree falls on a mountain and no one is around to hear it, does it make a noise? For one very famous tree, the moment it fell, the world could practically hear the cries of all of its tree-loving fans. That tree was the Jeffrey Pine on top of Yosemite’s Sentinel Dome, one of the most photographed trees in the entire world.
The Jeffrey Pine became famous as being something out of a dystopian storybook when it was first photographed by Ansel Adams. Thousands of tourists have since photographed the now-bygone tourist attraction, and despite its other worldly look, it stood proud until it fell in 2003.
9. Wedding Cake Rock
Sometimes a wedding cake means a walk down the aisle. But for this wedding cake, getting to it means going on a bit of a more strenuous journey. Still, for the views that Wedding Cake Rock in Australia had to offer, the hike was worth it for thousands of thrill-seeking tourists.
Named for its tiers of glistening white sandstone rock, Wedding Cake Rock became increasingly popular as tourists shared their jaw dropping photos on social media. To avoid any future hikers harming themselves, officials installed a fence in 2015 to block entrance to the jetting perch. But it is still worth going to see now, since experts say it could all come crumbling down within the next 10 years.
10. The Original Penn Station
Tourists visiting New York City might put Penn Station on their map of must-see iconic spots to visit. But for any New Yorker, they know that Penn Station is the kind of place you typically want to get in and out of as quickly as humanly possible. But the old Penn Station was a sight that even busy New Yorkers would want to stop to appreciate.
The original Penn Station, built in 1910, was as glamorous as it was gigantic, with sprawling glass ceilings and intricate architecture. By 1963, the train station was torn down and replaced with Madison Square Garden. But this feat of architecture doesn’t even compare to some of the other long-gone wonders on this list.
11. Pioneer Cabin Tree
Driving through a gigantic sequoia tree definitely warrants taking the scenic route for. That’s arguably how the many of visitors who had the opportunity to drive through the Pioneer Cabin Tree in Calaveras Big Trees State Park in California, felt before it met its tragic end.
A drivable tunnel was carved through the giant tree, also known as The Tunnel Tree, to draw visitors to its location. And it definitely worked, as the drive-thru tree attracted thousands just for the crazy cool experience. The tree that was said to be more than 1,000-year-old remained popular until it fell in a storm in 2017.
Six Flags AstroWorld, or just AstroWorld for short, was an essential part of childhood for many of the kids who grew up in the Houston, Texas, area. The sprawling theme park, which covered 104 acres of land, even included a water park. But after 37 years in operation, the rides all came to a halt.
In 2005, Six Flags announced that they would tear down the location, and in 2006 it was completely demolished. But the theme park still lives on in the minds of some of its biggest fans. For example, Houston-born rapper Travis Scott just named his latest album after the beloved park. That’s certainly one way for a theme park to face the music.
13. Lascaux Cave Paintings
The story about how the Lascaux Cave Paintings in France were discovered is just about as interesting as the paintings themselves. The wall paintings were actually a group of teenage boys who found the cave in 1940, when one of their dogs ran into the cave during a walk outside. Soon enough, the 17,000-year-old paintings were not just attracting curious dogs, but thousands of human tourists.
So with such an incredible discovery found in France, why haven’t any history buffs been visiting the space? That is probably because it was closed off to tourists in 1963, when officials deemed it too dangerous to allow visitors. But, are dogs still allowed?
14. Disney’s River Country
Disney’s River Country slid into its place in history as the first Walt Disney World water park. But the Disney family quickly learned that sometimes you can’t get everything right on the first try. Over the years, many of the attractions in River County needed serious repairs. In 2001, it was closed for maintenance, but never opened again.
Although the site still physically stands today, the now-abandoned water park has become surrounded by overgrown foliage near Disney’s Magic Kingdom and looks more like something out of a scary movie than the most magical place on Earth. However in 2018, Disney announced that a new park would be built on the same site. How enchanting!
15. Thailand’s White Sand Beaches
Is there anything more picturesque than spending a quiet, relaxing afternoon on a beach covered in pristine white sand in Thailand? Apparently, there were a lot of people who happened to agree, and flocked to places like Maya Bay on Thailand’s Phi Phi Leh Island. That influx of visitors led Thai officials to issue a tourist blackout for the white sand beaches.
Thai officials worried that the mass tourism has been harming the area’s coral reefs and iconic white sand beaches. With almost 80 percent of the island’s coral reefs already seeing the overwhelming effects of increased tourism, it seems that the white sand beaches might not be open for sunbathers anytime soon.
16. The Berlin Wall
During the 1960s and 1970s, tons of curious, Western tourists would stop by the Berlin Wall in Germany just to try to catch a glimpse of East Berlin from from West Berlin. Some artists would even play concerts or host other performances near the wall, leading more tourists to flock to the controversial site. Today, though, many tourists who come to the German capital to see the site of the wall don’t have the full effect.
Today, tourists can go and see where the wall stood, but that same site no longer has any real remnants of the original Berlin Wall since it came down in 1990. For those who want to see some of the original wall, they can find pieces scattered throughout Germany and in museums.
17. Guaira Falls
For any tourists chasing waterfalls, Guaira Falls was once an incredible option. Situated on the border of Paraguay and Brazil, the breathtaking waterfalls were among the strongest on earth. They pushed out an estimated 13 million gallons of water every second and could reportedly be heard from 20 miles away, or so we hear.
That all changed in 1982, when suddenly the waterfall dried up. It seems that even the strongest cascades were no match for man-made construction, because the newly-constructed Itaipu Dam blocked off the falls’ water source. Although readily visible, the falls technically exist somewhere, if you can find them under a massive lake.
18. Love Lock Bridge
There are a lot of ways to express love. Some people are gift givers, others prefer words of affirmation. But there are, apparently, a whole lot of couples who prefer to communicate their undying love by writing it on a lock at attaching it to a bridge over the River Seine in Paris.
Over time, the Pont des Arts Bridge amassed 700,000 locks and, while it was cool to look at, officials worried that the 45 tons added to the bridge from all those locks would ultimately collapse the entire thing. In 2015, city workers cut down the love locks due to unhappy locals who had complained for years. Nowadays, starry-eyed couples will have to find a new way to say “I love you” in the City of Lights.
19. Yosemite Firefalls
Now here is a sight that we are so bummed that we missed. Imagine all of the beauty of Yosemite National Park and its mountains and valleys. Now imagine a roaring fire waterfall cascading from one of Yosemite’s peaks. Yes, that was a real thing that used to happen.
The Yosemite Firefall was a popular event in the summer during which owners of a nearby hotel would pour hot embers from the top of Glacier Point, creating what looked like a spectacular fire waterfall for afar. The event was so amazing that it attracted a ton of tourists. Apparently, it attracted too many tourists for the park to handle, so they poured cold water on the firefall in 1968.
20. The Sutro Baths
Care for a dip? For anyone visiting or living in San Francisco from 1896 up until 1964, going to a swim was relatively easy, thanks to this incredible complex known as the Sutro Baths. Built by the city’s former mayor Adolph Sutro, the pool facility housed both freshwater and salt water pools. And the baths were extremely popular, until funds started to take a dip as well.
It turns out, the maintenance and upkeep costs for such a grand facility were pretty high. Ultimately the Sutro Baths were sold and the complex was closed before it was destroyed by a fire in 1966. But for anyone visiting San Francisco, parts of the original structure still stand.
21. Portions of the Great Wall of China
With great walls come great responsibility. And for China, the 5,000 mile Great Wall comes with the great responsibility of upkeeping such an impressive structure. But try as they might, almost two-thirds of the wall has already been closed off to the public.
Of course, tourists still flock to the Great Wall of China to get to walk on a bit into history. The Chinese government has allowed some of the Wall to be torn down as China builds up infrastructure, but other portions are crumbling due to vandalism and natural causes. And if the erosion continues, there could be a day when the Great Wall was just a great memory.
22. Chacaltaya Glacier
For decades it was one of the best places to ski in the world. Then one day, it was gone. The Chacaltaya Glacier, in its glory days, was one of the highest glaciers on the planet and attracted thousands for skiing and snowboarding. But then all that history just melted away.
The 18,000 year old glacier in Bolivia began to noticeably change starting in the 1980s, and from that point on it kept deteriorating. By 2009, the entire glacier was gone, and as it washed away as did the tourism to the area. The bygone tourist site now hosts a research observatory and some abandoned ski resorts.
23. Mount Humboldt
Some avid skiers, they would undoubtedly move mountains just to get to experience some of the world’s best slopes. Unfortunately for today’s skiers, it is too little too late for Mount Humboldt in the Northern Andes Mountains. The once-popular ski spot is now completely gone.
Obviously the actual mountain does still stand in the mountain range, but good luck trying to ski on it. The mountainside has not been skiable due to climate change. The ice has now all melted away, and scientists say that any remaining snow left on the peaks will be gone in just a few years.
24. Disney’s Discovery Island
For anyone taking a look at the official map of Disney World in Florida, they might notice a large green island that appears to host absolutely nothing on it. The mysterious island now has no way for tourists or even park employees to get to it. But once upon a time, that very island hosted its own piece of Disney World known as Disney’s Discovery Island.
The bygone tourist site that once hosted tropical animals and birds was abandoned in 1999 and the animals were moved over to Animal Kingdom in the same park. For now, no one really goes onto the island, and we imagine the site is actually pretty creepy. But who knows, maybe one day Disney will find a new use for the island property.
25. Heritage USA
It might come as no surprise for anyone who knows anything about South Carolina that the state at one point was home to Heritage USA, an “American-Christian themed” park. Originally created by a televangelist, the theme park and water park quickly grew in popularity. At one point, it attracted 6 million people each year.
But then in 1989, after an almost 11 year run, the park suddenly closed after the man who opened it, Jim Bakker, found himself caught up in a scandal. Today the abandoned park still stands. So don’t mourn the loss of this park too much, because now at least tourists can visit a pretty cool abandoned relic to wholesome America.
26. Duckbill Rock Formation
A big part of Oregon’s Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area tourist appeal had to do with the duckbill rock formation that sat by Oregon’s coastline. It was popular among tourists and photographers alike. Who wouldn’t be charmed by this smiling duck rock?
A group of vandals apparently. August 29, 2016 would mark the day that this ancient duck head would tumble to the ground and meet its demise. The rag-tag group responsible for the destruction claimed they were doing it out of concern for the public’s safety, as a friend of theirs had recently broken their leg while climbing the formation.
27. The World of Sid and Marty Krofft
In the realm of children’s television, Sid and Marty Krofft were beyond successful in the 1960s and 70s. They were responsible for smash hits like H.R. Pufnstuf, Land of the Lost and the design behind The Banana Splits. At the height of their fame, the two brothers decided to open up a colorful indoor amusement park in Atlanta, Georgia.
The doors opened to a mass of adoring fans, however, attendance levels took a swift decline after their opening day. Just six months after opening, the rides, shows and craft stalls would all shut down forever. While the brothers blamed the low attendance levels of Atlanta’s urban decay, high ticket prices and cheaper parks in the area might better explain the closing.
28. Tree of Ténéré
The Tree of Ténéré was at one point considered the most isolated tree in the world. The beautiful tree was smack in the middle of the Sahara desert and had been used as a landmark by traveling caravans for centuries. The tree’s existence goes back to a time when the Sahara desert was much more livable.
The tree met its lonely end when an intoxicated truck driver from Libya ran him down. The remains of the desert enigma were taken to the Niger National Museum and they remain their till this day. As a form of tribute, a metal pole has been placed near the location where the tree once stood. The new loneliest tree in the world is a spruce in New Zealand.
29. Sutro Baths
When we think of San Francisco, we usually think if tourist attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and Chinatown. However, amid these once stood the great Sutro Baths. The swimming pool complex once held the title for being the biggest swimming pool establishment in the world.
It held six saltwater pools and one freshwater pool, a museum, a 2,700 seat amphitheater, club rooms, 517 private dressing rooms and a skating rink. It was one of the city’s biggest prides and attracted people from all over the world. However, everything ended in the 1960’s. Amid the deconstruction of the Sutro Baths, an arson burned down the building.
30. Old Man of the Mountain
New Hampshire’s White Mountains were famous for having the outcropping of a face on the mountainside. It was nicknamed the Old Man of the Mountain. For decades, it was one of the state’s biggest tourist attractions and was even described by the US politician Daniel Webster as being a sign from God.
He was quoted as saying the following about the Old Man of the Mountain, “ In the mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign to show that there He makes men.” Sadly, the face no longer exist. In 2003, the old man’s face cracked and slid off the side of the mountain. Locals were so down trout over losing the face that they placed flowers at the mountain’s base.
The Mukurob or ‘Finger of God’ is the result of 50,000 years of erosion to the Weissrand Plateau. Mukurob was more than the biggest tourist attraction in Namibia’s Namib desert. It was the center of many geological studies and inspired many tales and legends amid the Nama people, an ethnic group living within the southern regions of Africa.
The Mukurob collapsed from the mountain on the night of December 7, 1988. Nobody was sure exactly how it happened, but it was assumed that the rainstorms from the week prior weakened the pillar. However, other sources point to an earthquake that happened in Armenia. The quack registered quite heavily in Namibia.
32. The Crystal Palace
In the mid-19th century, workers took to London’s Hyde Park and with cast-iron and plate-glass and created The Crystal Palace. It was completed in 1851 and stood tall as one of London’s largest tourist attractions until tragedy stuck in 1936. It housed the first ever Great Exhibition and showed the world the newest technology being released during the Industrial Revolution.
It was later moved to Sydenham Hill and that’s the structure that we have images of today. If there was ever a big event or exhibition happening in London, the Crystal Palace would be the location. Sadly, a fire stemming from the cloak room ended up burning down the entire Crystal Palace. If your grandparents were lucky, they might have been able to check it out as children.
33. Torres Del Paine National Park
Torres Del Paine National Park was one of the most beautiful locations in all of Chile. It was celebrated for its lush green fields, its army of trees and the Towers of Paine. However, years of tourism have taken a toll on this natural beauty. We’re not talking litter and pollution, we’re talking about raging fires that were also started by the hands of campers.
In 1985, 58 miles of the park was destroyed by a fire started by a camper. Another tourist burnt 60 miles of the surrounding area in 2005 and most recently in 2011, a tourist started an illegal fire that took out 68 miles of the park. While the park still stands today, it’s far from the beauty it once was.
34. The Christmas Island Coral Reef
Christmas Island is unique for more than just having millions of crabs invade the island during its mating season, it also homes one of the world’s most beautiful coral reefs. At least it did up until recently. In just ten months between 2015 and 2016, the reef was nearly completely wiped out.
The reason behind this was stress due to the heat brought on by global warming. The coral reef was described as being a ghost town by a University of Victoria biologist. They went on a one month scuba diving expedition and concluded that El Nino had killed the coral reef.
35. Borscht Belt
The Catskill Mountains in upstate New York homed a slew of lavish Jewish resorts under the name of the Borscht Belt or Jewish Alps. The resorts were at the peak of their success between the 1920s and 1970s. They would often host famous Jewish comedians and musicians that would often thrive in their respective arts.
The resorts offered a number of specialty services and even had their very own Yiddish theater on the grounds. Once air travel became accessible to the masses, the resorts’ popularity dwindled. Besides for a few lingering hotels, it is almost completely abandoned today. The movie Dirty Dancing takes place on a Catskill resorts and shows best how life was during this bygone era.
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