This article was originally published on Travlerz
Everybody loves a good vacation and an opportunity to travel and explore. But what if we told you that some of the most stunning tourist destinations in the world are now off-limits? Popular spots our grandparents used to enjoy are no longer accessible, or simply no longer exist, and we are to blame. Take a look back at the vintage travel hotspots that are now confined to history, for an opportunity to appreciate what's lost forever!
The Statue of Liberty Torch
Lady Liberty has welcomed millions of immigrants to the American shore for more than a century. She also draws in tourists, who want to get to know her personally. In the old days, you could actually go up to her torch and look at all of NYC and what the statue is like from above. It was a spectacular view, as seen here. But then, there was an edict: The balcony that used to hold the crowds was deemed dangerous in 1916.
We will likely never get to see what others once loved. Maybe one day, there will be a change to policy. But for now, we will just have to imagine the experience from the ground. It's still pretty magnificent!
The Sutro Baths
San Francisco used to be home to a massive swimming complex. It was called the Sutro Baths, and it was full of both fresh and saltwater pools. Built at the direction of the mayor himself, the project was an absolute hit. The facility was open from 1896 until 1964. But then, the bills came in. Maintenance and upkeep for all those pools were getting awfully expensive. You know what happened next!
The city sold the Sutro Baths, and the whole complex was closed. Then, the whole place was destroyed by a freak fire in 1966. Parts of the structure are still standing today. But as you might imagine, everything that made it special is gone for good.
Chichen Itza Pyramid
Chichen Itza was once the place where you could see grand old pyramids and climb to the top. Imagine the views up there! Travelers enjoyed that experience for hundreds of years without interruption. But eventually, the number of people curious about ancient stones began to get overwhelming. The Mexican government put a stop to it, in the interest of preservation. Unfair? We don't think so. Sad for wanderlusters? You betcha!
Rumor has it that graffiti was a concern. Or maybe it was simply too dangerous for so many people to climb up there. Who knows!
Don't go chasing waterfalls, they said. But the world didn't listen. The glorious falls of Guaira were once on the border of Paraguay and Brazil. But if you'll go there now, you will find that there's no longer anything to be seen. The waterfalls used to churn out 13 million gallons of water a second and could be heard from 20 miles away. But that all changed in 1982 when they were flooded to create a reservoir.
Once a popular tourist attraction, they were submerged to make an artificial lake when the Itaipu dam was completed. There still are plenty of other water attractions out there, but we can't deny this is a loss.
The Azure Window
If you've ever thought about visiting the island of Malta, it might be because you saw the Azure Window all over many destination travel blogs. It's been a big deal on Instagram, too. Influencers loved to show off next to this limestone marvel, and it was even featured in Game of Thrones. Thankfully, this natural scenery was caught on film so often. But actually, the window no longer exists!
Mother nature had the final word, and we can't argue. Even though it weathered countless storms over the years, one finally turned out to be too intense. In March 2017, the natural structure came crashing down.
The Underwater Amazon
There were pretty spectacular coral reefs off of the Indonesian coast up until pretty recently. Near the area called Raja Ampat, a collection of coral and life was called the “Underwater Amazon”. It was regarded as one of the best in the world, and you'd think it would be protected. But in 2017, there was a debating incident. Unbelievably, a British cruise ship crashed into it after veering off its planned route. Yes, seriously!
The crash damaged 1,600 square meters of the reef, and experts are not optimistic that it is growing back anytime soon. It could take 100 years to naturally rebuild itself.
New York's Hippodrome
In NYC, there is no shortage of picnic entertainment venues from a bygone era. The old New York Hippodrome in Manhattan has been radically transformed, and no longer exists in its classic style. It's just an office building today, but it used to be so much more. At its peak, it was the biggest theater in the world. It could hold 5,000 people, and it hosted movies, circuses, and all kinds of traveling shows.
It was the place to be seen, no question. Even Harry Houdini performed there before it closed in 1939. It's interesting to look at it in old-timey photos. But sadly, we know that magic is over for good.
Kaimu Beach in Hawaii was a magical place, while it lasted. The site was known as a world-renowned black sand beach, a color that was strangely satisfying. Thousands of tourists flocked to this unique experience until 1990. There were few places on earth to see pitch-black sand between your toes. And now, there is one fewer, thanks to the Kilauea Volcano. When it erupted, this place had absolutely no chance.
Not only was the beach destroyed but the town of Kalapana was buried. Locals managed to rebuild it, but the beach was another matter. Now, it's all just a dreamy photo.
The Legzira Beach Arch
Morocco has gotten a lot of attention in recent years thanks to Instagram. Whether it's gorgeous sunset weddings or selfies in the blue city, the country has no shortage of selfie seekers. One of the more popular tourist attractions has been a set of arched rock formations. Legzira Beach hosted this natural wonder, considered to be an ideal place to view sunsets. But sadly, that has all changed for the worse.
One of the two famous arches on the beach actually fell down in 2016. It collapsed under its own weight! One is still standing, but scientists say both will be gone soon. Gravity is unavoidable, even for rocks.
Six Flags has so many parks around America that it's to easy forget Six Flags AstroWorld. Never heard of it? Maybe that's because it's long closed, and now totally demolished. It was once a place for the children in Houston, Texas to ride roller coasters and splash in swimming pools. It was around for 37 years on 104 acres of land. But the company decided to nix it from their portfolio of parks, and that was that.
Although you will never be able to enjoy its thrills, you can admire it in photos. You can also remember it by listening to rapper Travis Scott's latest album. He named it after this very park!
The Pioneer Cabin Tree
We've always wanted to drive through a giant tree, but where can we realistically do that? Back in the day in California, visitors to Calaveras Big Trees State Park actually could. This photo shows the Pioneer Cabin Tree, and most cars at the time could fit through with ease. It was 1,000 years old, which made it even more intriguing, and it attracted thousands to the park. But nothing lasts forever!
Thew attraction was popular even up until recently. But that all changed when a big storm ravaged the area in 2017. That's when the Pioneer Cabin Tree fell, and stayed down. RIP, tree!
Vance Creek Bridge
Instagram likes and clicks are addictive, no doubt. Lately, we've noticed millennials have taken their quest for social media attention to dangerous levels. The abandoned Vance Creek Bridge in Mason County, Washington became quite a draw, in this regard. It was originally built by the Simpson Logging Company back in 1929. It's 347 feet high and affords gorgeous views to visitors. All these visitors, however, started to make the current owners nervous.
The structure attracted way too many adrenaline junkies, and it was just a matter of time before a tragic accident hit the news. As a result, Vance Creek Bridge was totally shut down.
Most people probably assume you can't set a waterfall on fire. There would be every reason to believe that, based on common sense. But you should have seen The Yosemite Firefall at Yosemite National Park. Until 1968, this was an event during the summer that created stunning visuals for visitors. The owners of a nearby hotel poured hot embers from the top of the falls, and as they came down, it looked like a fire waterfall.
It was a neat trick, and tourists flocked to view it. But eventually, it attracted too many! As a result, the event was ended forever.
Heritage USA Christian Theme Park
Themeparks all have different themes. In the case of Heritage USA in South Carolina, the theme was the Bible. In the '80s, it was created by famed televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. It included a waterpark. and was billed as an “American-Christian-themed” attraction. At first, it seemed like it had a business future. 6 million visitors came oper year. But after 11 years, the park suddenly closed. Why suddenly?
Well, as history recalls, Jim Bakker found himself in a big scandal. He was convicted of fraud and went straight to prison. Today, his old project still stands, but it's just a relic.
Wedding Cake Rock
If you like cake and you like rocks, we've got a destination for it. But actually, we don't. This is a list of bygone sites, after all. Wedding Cake Rock in Australia was once an awesome place to sit and admire, attracting some of the biggest thrill-seekers to the edge of its delicious-looking white cliff. It truly looked like a giant cake, and we get the appeal. Officials, however, had other feelings on the matter.
In 2015, a fence was erected to stop everyone from walking to the edge. Experts say Wedding Cake Rock might actually all crumble in the next decade. For now, you have to stay away. Soon, you won't be able to see it from afar!
The Jeffrey Pine
It was a noble tree, standing all alone. The Jeffrey Pine used to sit on top of Yosemite’s Sentinel Dome, sprouted right in the middle of granite. When it was captured by famous photographer Ansel Adams, it became iconic. Thousands of tourists wanted to see it when they were in the area. But despite its popularity, it wasn't meant to be. The Jeffrey Pine stood proud until it couldn't stand any longer.
The old tree fell in 2003. Park rangers think it couldn't withstand a severe storm. Maybe it sounds like a sad story, but maybe it was time. It was around 400 years old!
The Original Penn Station
New Yorkers are all pretty familiar with Penn Station. It's a major hub for travel in the metro, and it's always pretty full. Few have probably stopped to wonder what it looked like in the old days. Don't ponder too long: We've got the answer right here, in photo form. The original Penn station was a sight that even the busiest commuters appreciated, back in the day. Built n 1910, it was glamourous for sure.
From the intricate architecture to the massive glass ceiling, it was not an ordinary city building. Sadly, it was torn down and remade in 1963. Now, we can only imagine the true vibe!
The Lascaux Cave Paintings
Archaeology enthusiasts all wish they could still visit this old wonder, but sadly, they cannot. The Lascaux Cave Paintings were discovered by local French teens in 1940, when their dog ran into a mysterious cavern. Inside, they discovered some 17,000-year-old caveman art. Tourists have come in waves to see them since, but there are problems with the site that just won't go away, no matter how much officials tried.
First, they had to close it because of the breath of thousands of humans. The extra humidity was causing fungus to grow on the historical paintings. They reopened it, but soon found an infestation of black mold, so they were left with no other choice but to shut it down. Truly tragic!
Disney’s River Country
Ever heard of Disney’s River Country? This was the first Walt Disney World water park, but it wasn't built up to today's high standards. There were constant repairs made over the years, and it was closed totally in 2001 for maintenance. We don't know why they never bothered to reopen, but maybe it was too excessive to keep up, or maybe they just moved on to bigger, better parks.
It's now just another abandoned water park, in the graveyard of bad projects. It's full of plants and most say it looks terrible. In 2018, Disney announced the site will be made into a new attraction.
The Berlin Wall
The cold war was a prolonged period of tension between American and its allies, and the Soviet Union and theirs. Each power wanted to rule the world, and it was a pretty intense struggle. Germany was caught in the middle, for decades. Half of the city of Berlin was controlled by the Russians and half by the USA. The result was a wall separating East Germany from West Germany, and this lasted all the way until 1989.
When the wall finally fell due to public pressure, the sight was iconic. But what about the wall, as it once was? You can no longer visit it in its original form, as seen here. Few are sad about that, though!
Thailand’s Maya Bay
Millions of tourists flocked to Maya Bay on Thailand’s Phi Phi Leh Island. It was picturesque, stunning and full of pristine, white sand. But all those tourists started to create some real concern for the government, as funny as that sounds. Sure, Thailand relies on tourism as a major industry. But there are limits to everything, and the traffic was starting to do some serious damage to the environment.
Thai officials were concerned about the coral reefs, 50% of which had been destroyed by boats. The heavenly sand was also getting pretty filthy from the trash. It's been closed, for years! And although it's scheduled to open in 2022 with new rules, don't be surprised if this doesn't last.
Love Lock Bridge
There was once a local, quirky tradition on a bridge over the River Seine in Paris. People would attach little locks to the Pont des Arts Bridge, and it created an incredible display over time. It was all fun and games until officials realized there were 700,000 locks clipped on the bridge. They did the math and that amounted to 45 tons.They feared all this weight would simply cause the bridge to collapse!
In 2015, municipal workers cut them off, and that was the end of the locks. But there are still plenty of other attractions in Paris. Don't worry, you won't be bored.
The Tree of Ténéré
If you've been wondering about the most isolated tree on the planet, we have the tree for you. The Tree of Ténéré was once considered exactly that. Here it is, all alone in the middle of the Sahara desert. What is it doing there? How did it survive? Those are all good questions. Apparently, the area used to be a bit more livable. The area was hospitable enough for one, brave seed to sprout.
The resulting tree became a landmark for travelers in the area for hundreds of years. That all changed when a madman ran it over with his truck. The Tree of Ténéré is all gone now. As a kind gesture, locals put a sculpture there to commemorate it.
The Old Man of the Mountain
New Hampshire’ was once home to a magnificent natural formation. In the White Mountains, locals noticed what looked like a face on the side of a peak. Obviously, that drew in tourists far and wide, who all wanted to see the miracle on the mountain. US politician Daniel Webster claimed it was a sign from the creator. He explained: “In the mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign to show that there He makes men.”
That all sounds very lofty. But we are sad to report that the old man is gone now. In 2003, the face slid off, all cracked. His fans actually placed flowers near his site to remember him. Sad times!
The World of Sid and Marty Krofft
Kiddie TV has really evolved over the decades. We expect CGI these days, but obviously, that's pretty new. The old days were far more low-tech, and puppets were employed more often than not. Sid and Marty Krofft were a brotherly duo who had a string of hits 1960s and 70s. They were responsible for smash hits like Land of the Lost and The Banana Splits. Because they were having rating success, they thought they would have amusement park success. How did they get that crazy idea in their heads?
The World of Sid and Marty Krofft was an indoor attraction with rides, crafts, and shows in Atlanta, Georgia. After opening day, almost no one came back. Just six months later, it closed!
India's Natural History Museum
Museums are places that house thousands of priceless artifacts. We would hope that the security around these places is top-notch. The Natural History Museum in New Delhi, India found their weak spots the hard way when a fire burned the entire thing to the ground in 2016. Despite the efforts to stop the flames basically, every single item was destroyed. The blaze was just too intense for fragile artifacts to survive.
30 firetrucks failed to halt the heat. Archaeologists and historians were mortified, not to mention the museum's many visitors. Countless process specimens were lost forever. A 160 million-year-old dino skeleton, included!
Chunks of the Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is surely one of the wonders of the architectural world. It's so long, and it was built so long ago. Impressive, sure. But we had no idea that some of the priceless parts have been taken down in recent years. Why would that happen? Well, 5,000 miles of responsibility sometimes means that the bad parts need to go. It was a tough decision, we are sure.
The Chinese government noticed that some of the wall was crumbling due to natural causes. There was also some damage from vandalism, believe it or not. For now, we are happy to report most of it still exists in all its original glory.
The Duckbill Rock Formation
Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area is located in Oregon, for those who haven't heard of it before. It's a pristine example of American land before settlement, totally untouched by development. There used to be one special site there that brought in tourists more than any other. This is the duckbill rock formation. If you look closely, it looks very much like a duck. How did this accident of nature happen?
We can't say for sure. It seems like a one in a gazillion event. Unfortunately, a group of vandals intentionally demolished the stone bird in 2016. Isn't that a shame? We curse them, whoever they are!
The Chacaltaya Glacier?
The Chacaltaya Glacier was quite the draw for winter athletes in its glory days. For decades it was a top global ski destination. It was our favorite 18,000-year-old glacier in Bolivia! No one could have guessed that it was disappearing. But disappear it did, over a period of years, until there was virtually nothing left of the formation at all. That's a little unnerving, to say the least. What happened?
In the 1980's, the ice started to change. The ice started to deteriorate, and it went from being one of the highest glaciers in the world to nothing. Now, it's full of abandoned ski resorts. We get why they folded!
This is quite the knob, some would say. But we're sad to say it no longer exists. It's the Mukurob, sometimes called the ‘Finger of God’, it's what 50,000 years of erosion can do to a plateau. The changes were gradual, but time created an inspiring sight. Mukurob became the biggest tourist attraction in Namibia's desert, and it fascinated tourists and geologists alike. Looking at it in a photo, it sure looks sturdy. What could have happened?
Some claim an earthquake in faraway Armenia was to blame, but no one can be sure. All we know is that The Mukurob collapsed from its perch on December 7, 1988. Farewell, Mukurob!
The Borscht Belt
The Catskill Mountains were once the premier summer destination for NYC Jewish families that wanted to get away from the city. They built bungalows and resorts and had loads of fun in the sun. Humorously, it became known as "The Borscht Belt". At its peak, it used to attract 150,000 guests a year. You may recognize this area from Dirty Dancing and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Famous comedians would come and try out their material there, and it was just the place to be. Until it wasn't.
Why did it decline? Many reasons, probably. But largely, according to Time Magazine: "Railways began cutting service to the area, the popularity of air travel increased, and a younger generation of Jewish-Americans chose other leisure destinations."
The Caves of Altamira
Anthropologists went wild when they discovered these charcoal paintings. Not only are they pretty good, but one painting dates back 35,000 years. It's remarkable it survived to tell us so much about people back then. Today, though, the art has been degraded. No one did it intentionally, we are happy to report. But human breath smogging up the caves interacted with the paint on the wall. The colors started to change!
Because of the potential for damage, the caves were closed to the public shortly thereafter. Since 2002, you can't go in. All you can do is look at a nearby replica. But it's not the same!
The Roxy Theater
During the golden age of Hollywood, glamour was the operative word. Near Times Square in NYC, the Roxy Theater was a gorgeous venue to see the latest movie. It was opened in 1927, and it held a remarkable 6,000 patrons. Theater was also presented on the stage. But besides the delight from the entertainment itself, people really enjoyed seeing the elite of the city put on their furs, heels, and pearls.
In case you're getting inspired to go out on the town here, the Roxy Theater is gone. By the 1960's, ticket sales had waned. The decision was made to demolish the building completely. The deed was done!
The city of Sana’a in Yemen is one of the oldest cities on the planet. Some of the buildings boast architecture that is truly thousands of years old., Not many places can say they still have their originals, but this is a very special place. Sana’a was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, and we certainly want to visit. That plan may be impossible, though. The city has become incredibly dangerous for a number of reasons.
Years of conflict with nearby Saudi Arabia and tons of local attacks have proved to be quite explosive. Tourists have been warned to stay away, and it's not clear how long that will last. We hope the ancient wonders will still be standing, in the end!
We've heard the name Timbuktu in movies and songs. It seems like an established place people know about and visit. But is it, really? These days, we must report that this is a danger zone, and has been for many years. The ancient city located 20 km north of the Niger River in Mali is a site of rebel violence, and all sorts of people have been attacked. Visiting is not reccommended, to say the least.
Like many sites in the world, this attraction isn't actually gone. But due to the realities on the ground, it is functionally irrelevant. You may never get to see this place with your own eyes. But we hope we are wrong!
A Huge Part of Korea
Most people have noticed that world maps include both north and south when it comes to Korea. It wasn't always that way, though. There used to a single, united Korea, and the elderly still may have faint memories of it. In 1945, The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea came into existence. That's North Korea, and any hopes for a reunion were thwarted by nukes in recent decades. You can't force the Kims that have ruled it to cooperate. They could blow up all of us, any time!
With so much time and so much isolation, the Korea of the past truly no longer exists. If the walls ever come down, how will the pieces ever be put back together again?
The Ambassador Hotel
Hollywood glam was a different experience in the old days. The Ambassador Hotel is one spot that used to host the Oscars, and celebs like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire walked its red carpet. The hotel remained a hotspot for hotshots for decades, like Robert F. Kennedy. Sadly, that's also where he was assassinated. However, movie buffs continued to visit the site long after the award show was moved to another location.
Despite the continued interest in keeping it open, the hotel wasn't meant to be. In the 1990s it was totally demolished. All we have left are pictures and videos, but luckily, the stories live on.
Pravcicka Brana in the Czech Republic
Pravcicka Brana was a sandstone arch located in the Czech Republic for goodness knows how long. It was a literal natural wonder, and it drew tourists in droves. It was exhilarating to climb on top and take pictures, and that is what thousands did before officials outlawed the practice. Why did they make this harsh move? Well, like so many things in nature, erosion had its effects. Over time, the structure simply became unstable, and therefore, unsafe.
No one wanted to see the next Instagrammer tumble down in a pile of rocks. We understand the ban, but that doesn't mean we aren't sad we can't go up!
The Caribbean Town of Plymouth
The Caribbean is a place where you go for vacation, not mayhem. Usually, that's exactly what you will get down there. But the town of Plymouth on the island of Montserrat got an unwelcome volcanic eruption, and there wasn't much they could do about it. Although they once hosted tourists for fun in the sun, every human being fled right before the area was buried in hot, molten lava. Yikes!
Even today, that volcano gurgles and threatens to erupt again. People do visit the island today, but the town of Plymouth is simply not the same.
The Historic RKO Pictures Studio Lot
Once upon a time in downtown Culver City, California, RKO Radio Pictures was the major Hollywood studio in the biz. The company was founded in 1928, when film was in its infancy. The firm lasted all the way until 1959, but it closed. Afterward, the site became a cool destination to muse about movies. After all, this was where some of the earliest films were made into our favorite motion pictures.
If this makes you want to plan a visit, though, hold your horses. The defunct lot is no longer around in any form. It was torn down in 1976, and that's pretty final.