THEN AND NOW: What 12 abandoned places in the US looked like before they became ruins

Courtesy of Marisa ScheinfeldGrossinger’s Resort in the Catskills, then and now.
  • Borscht Belt” resorts in the Catskills went out of style and have sat abandoned for decades.
  • Houston’s Astrodome used to host sports games and concerts, but is now empty except for when it’s used as shelter during natural disasters.
  • The Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio, is now a museum and features a tour led by a former prisoner.
  • Visit INSIDER.com for more stories.

From once-glamorous summer resorts to eerie sanatoriums, abandoned buildings (and even whole cities) across the US remain shells of their former selves. But what were these eerily empty structures like in their prime?

Here’s what 12 abandoned places looked like before they were deserted and how they have since decayed.


The Pines Hotel in South Fallsburg, New York, was part of the “Borscht Belt,” a collection of resorts popular with New York City Jews in the 1950s and 1960s.

Courtesy of Marisa ScheinfeldThe Pines Hotel’s ice skating rink in its glory days.

New York-based photographer Marisa Scheinfeld grew up vacationing in the Borscht Belt with her family every summer. She set out to capture the crumbling glamour of the once well-known destinations in a photography book called “The Borscht Belt.”

Read more: 23 eerie photos that show the crumbling beauty of New York’s abandoned ‘Borscht Belt’ resorts


The ice skating rink at the Pines Hotel has seen better days.

Courtesy of Marisa ScheinfeldWhat the ice skating rink looks like now.

In the 1960s, cheap air travel allowed a new generation to visit more exotic and warmer destinations, and the Borscht Belt was no longer the place to be.


Grossinger’s Resort, another Borscht Belt hotspot, was once known as the “Waldorf in the Catskills.”

Courtesy of Marisa ScheinfeldThe indoor pool at Grossinger’s Resort.

At its peak, Grossinger’s had 150,000 visitors every year and hosted entertainers such as Eddie Fisher, Jerry Lewis, and Milton Berle, according to Atlas Obscura.

Elizabeth Taylor married Eddie Fisher there, and according to The New York Times, it served as the inspiration for the setting of “Dirty Dancing.”


It closed in 1986 and its once-glamorous swimming pools and gazebos are being overtaken by the surrounding woods.

Courtesy of Marisa ScheinfeldThe windows of Grossinger’s indoor pool area.

The resort’s owner died in 1972 and the property was sold to a hotel developer, but nothing ever came of it.


From the 1880s to 1943, people with contagious diseases were quarantined on North Brother Island near New York City.

“Typhoid Mary” Mallon, an early 20th century cook who infected dozens with typhoid fever, was one of the island’s most infamous inhabitants. After World War II, North Brother Island was used to house veterans and later as a camp for troubled teens.


Today, most of its structures are on the verge of collapse.

Dave Mosher/Business InsiderAn abandoned building on North Brother Island.

The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation maintains the island as a bird sanctuary, and access to its crumbling remains of a morgue, boiler room, and dormitories is restricted.


Read more:
New York City owns a creepy island that almost no one is allowed to visit – here’s what it’s like


The Wonderland Club Hotel in Elkmont, Tennessee, was a popular resort in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Graphic Arts Agency/Wikimedia Commons/Public DomainA postcard for the Wonderland Club Hotel in Elkmont, Tennessee.

Built in 1912, the Wonderland Club Hotel was a hotspot for Tennessee’s elite. It had 26 rooms that were all decorated differently and was known for its delicious family-style cuisine.


Nature is reclaiming the site of the hotel after a fire destroyed most of it.

Brian Stansberry/Wikimedia Commons/Creative CommonsWhat’s left of the Wonderland Club Hotel.

The National Park Service closed the resort in 1992, and a fire consumed most of what was left in 2016.


The Ohio State Reformatory opened in 1896.

Courtesy of the Ohio State ReformatoryThe west cell block of the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield.

At its peak in 1955, the facility held 5,235 prisoners.


It closed in 1990 and is now a museum.

Niagara66/ Wikimedia CommonsA row of cells inside the reformatory.

The site now offers tours (including one led by a former prisoner) and ghost hunting classes. It has also been featured in many film and TV productions, most famously “The Shawshank Redemption.”


From 1911 to 1996, Letchworth Village in Thiells, New York, was a mental institution.

Bettmann/Contributor/Getty ImagesLetchworth Village in 1957. The children’s faces have been obscured.

Over 10,000 locals were employed by the institution to treat patients and maintain the grounds at its peak in the 1960s.

Some patients were taught vocational skills such as farming or sewing, but others were the subjects of controversial experiments.


Now, it’s a creepy abandoned building.

Forsaken Fotos/ FlickrInside the abandoned mental institution.

When a journalist named Geraldo Rivera published a 1972expose on the cruel practices at Letchworth, the state of New York began scaling down mental institutions and moving patients to group homes.


New York City’s first subway station, City Hall, opened in 1904.

Bettmann/Contributor/Getty ImagesFinanciers, city officials, and policemen ride New York City’s first subway in 1904.

The station was designed by Spanish engineer Rafael Guastavino, who was part of the City Beautiful design movement in the late 19th century and early 1900s. Guastavino in particular was known for his arches.


The abandoned City Hall subway station is only accessible via a special tour.

Felix Lipov/ ShutterstockThe now-abandoned subway station.

The station closed in 1945, but the the New York Transit Museum offers tours to members.

Read more:There’s an old, unused subway station underneath New York’s City Hall. Here’s what it’s like to visit.


Nearly $US200 million worth of copper was processed at Kennecott Mines in Alaska between 1911 and 1938.

At its biggest, 300 people worked in the mill and 200 to 300 people worked in the mines, according to the National Park Service.


The mines closed in 1938 when the supply of high-grade ore ran out and has been empty ever since.

The National Park Service is working on restoring buildings that can be saved, such as the store and post office.


When the Houston Astrodome opened in 1965, it was the first domed multi-purpose stadium in the US.

The stadium hosted sports games, conventions, and concerts with a capacity of 70,000 people. Some called it the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”


These days, it’s used as a shelter during natural disasters.

The Houston Astros baseball team and the Hoston Oilers football team moved on to new stadiums, and the last event there took place in 2002.


Michigan Central Station opened in 1913 and was the tallest railroad station in the world at the time.

Donaldson Collection/Getty ImagesMichigan Central Station circa 1913 in Detroit, Michigan.

It was known as “Detroit’s Ellis Island” with 54-foot ceilings, chandeliers and 68-foot Corinthian columns.


The last train left the station in 1988.

PsychoMafia/ ShutterstockThe former transportation hub.

Michigan Central Station became a site of vandalism and theft until the city built a barbed wire fence in 1995. The station was set to be demolished in 2009, but the historic building was saved. It remains empty, but the Detroit city officials hope to refurbish it one day.


Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Kentucky was built in 1910 as a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients.

Courtesy of the Waverly Hills Historical SocietyWaverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky.

As many as 64,000 people may have died there, according to Mental Floss.


It closed in 1961, and many visitors think it’s haunted.

Reports of paranormal activity inspired the horror movie “Death Tunnel” set in the underground passageways used by staff to remove bodies from the building. The Waverly Hills Historical Society currently offers guided tours and paranormal investigations.


Joyland Amusement Park in Wichita, Kansas, was founded in 1949.

Patrick Pelletier/Wikimedia Commons/Creative CommonsThe Log Jam ride at Joyland in 1997.

The park operated before safety and animal rights regulations were put in place, resulting in unfortunate accidents.


Skeletons of roller coasters are all that remain.

Ppelleti/Wikimedia CommonsA wooden roller coaster in the abandoned Joyland Amusement Park.

The park was reopened under different operators in 2006, and closed down a few years later.

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