Spend any time on Pinterest or Flickr and you’re bound to find a slew of photos of abandoned spaces and ghost ramps.
I’ve got a fondness for abandoned houses, theatres, and so on. Both sad and mysterious, they don’t always give up their stories easily. You need a lot of imagination to re-paper the peeling walls, shore up collapsing ceilings, or repopulate them with the fragmentary ghosts of their pasts.
Whenever I pass a ruined house, or a crumbling wreck of a building, I always wonder who built it, and who abandoned it. What happened to its owners?
Spaces on the edge of existence
Such places occupy what is known as ‘liminal space’. They’re on the boundaries of existence since they occupy a physical space, and have a physical presence, but they aren’t used for the original function.
A house without occupants seems to be half a house and disused theatres that no longer host performances seem cold.
They easily become sites of horror within popular culture. Because they exist on the boundary, they can often become a portal for whatever lives beyond.
Just look at Candyman!
But not all abandoned spaces are indoors…
Having said that, I came across something entirely new over on Urban Ghosts – that of the ‘stub street’, or ‘ghost ramp’.
This image is of the ghost ramps at M8 West Street in Glasgow (Junction 20), taken in 2003 while the West Street on-ramp was closed for bridge works (taken by Ddmiller).
These are different beasts from the crumbling ancestral homes or faded picture palaces that I normally look at. They’re made all the more strange because I’ve even seen some of these fragments of road but not realised what they were. I thought they were still under construction – I didn’t know they had stood half-built for any period of time.
This weird example is from Manchester. This is an unfinished slip road which was stopped because of incorrect construction. So it just continues to sit there!
This particular example is actually an unfinished pedestrian walkway in Newcastle upon Tyne. It’s part of T. Dan Smith’s vision of skywalks in the 1960s, intended to keep pedestrians and vehicles separate. This one just doesn’t go anywhere at all and comes to an abrupt halt behind the Bridge Tavern. That’s the Tyne Bridge above it.
This unfinished walkway is just under 55 Degrees North – formerly the Swan House Roundabout in Newcastle. The walkway on the far side now terminates at a staircase and leads down into Carliol Square.
They’re not just restricted to the UK, either
Even a cursory search of Flickr or Wikimedia Commons reveals that ghost ramps aren’t just a British quirk of construction.
This is the ghost ramp in Portland, Oregon. Part of the Mount Hood Freeway, the route was originally going to run through southeast Portland, while other projects would have taken the route out into the Gresham suburb, as well as the city of Sandy. The original plans led to the cancellation of the project.
This stub was supposed to connect to either I-5, or the Mount Hood Freeway. This image was taken in 2007, and the ramp has since been removed.
This dead end is on I-40 in downtown Memphis. It just looks eerie.
Following (or not) the Road to Nowhere
I think part of what makes these so bizarre is the fact that they’re just such a contradiction. A street is supposed to connect points A and B – they allow journeys to be completed, and the general idea of a street is that it leads somewhere.
These streets and ramps don’t.
They stop, often suddenly, and stop the progress of the journey. Points A and B are disconnected and the route is severed. Humans will naturally find another route, even if it means making a new one, but there’s something unsettling about a road to nowhere.
What I do have to wonder though is…what if they aren’t roads to nowhere? What if they do lead somewhere – what would we find there?
Over to you! Are there any ghost ramps near you? Share photos in the comments!
If you enjoyed this post, consider sharing it with like-minded friends! You might also enjoying reading about British ghost signs!
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