Urban Decay: Structures in Ruin

Urban explorer Chris Luckhardt has traveled the world to document abandoned railway stations, theaters, factories and other structures.

An avid photographer, Luckhardt manages to capture a certain beauty in the ruins of these forgotten edifices that have suffered the ravages of neglect and the elements.

All photos © Chris Luckhardt

Michigan Central Station is the most notable and visible example of Detroit's decline. The train station was built in 1912 and thrived for many years until it closed in 1988.

While these scenes may be a depressing sight to some, Luckhardt maintains a more positive view of his hobby. "Witnessing the decay of the past can be a reflection of the possibilities of the future," he says.

The Sattler Theater in downtown Buffalo, N.Y., opened in 1914 as a 928-seat movie theater. The colorful theater changed ownership many times, and once served as a place of worship, before closing in 1996.

The Six Flags New Orleans amusement park was heavily damaged by floodwaters during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. A few rides were salvaged and installed in other Six Flags parks, with the remaining rides left behind to decay silently .

A growing population necessitated the construction of a new high school in 1976 in the town of Holley, N.Y. The older high school, located in the center of the town, was used as a machine shop until the early 1980s. In recent years, urban explorers have superstitiously left behind children's toys in the front row of the school's auditorium.

Hashima Island is an abandoned site near Nagasaki, off the coast of southern Japan. Mitsubishi ran a coal-mining operation there for 87 years before it was abandoned in 1974. At its peak in 1959, the tiny 16-acre isle was home to 5,259 people.

Because of it's growing population at the time, and the island's distance from the rest of Japan, Hashima had its own fully-operational hospital. This hallway is on the hospital's second floor.

Furniture and other possessions are often left behind when buildings and locations suddenly become abandoned. Hashima Island's abandonment in 1974 was no exception.

An abandoned bank is bathed in the glow of sunset in the small town of Hollister, Idaho. A retired veteran living across from the bank described how the town's buildings closed one-by-one as younger generations left the rural Idaho town for urban environments.

The Farwell Building in downtown Detroit was abandoned in 1984. The office building's primary feature is a light court running through the center of the office space.

The Dixie Square Mall in Chicago, might be the most famous abandoned mall in America. It opened with great fanfare in 1966, but because of the area's rapid economic decline, it closed a scant 12 years later. In 1979, it was rented out and used as the location for the police car-chase-scene in the movie "The Blues Brothers." Many set pieces from the movie remained until the mall was demolished in 2011.

When not roaming the world's ruins, Toronto-based Chris Luckhardt divides his time between designing websites and running an Internet radio podcast network.