America's Coolest Abandoned Places

From the maintained to the rubble-ridden, these structures are beautiful reminders of the past.

Crumbling structures, maintained or completely abandoned, all hold intrigue and wonder for more than a few urban explorers.

While all the buildings that made our list are abandoned, their states of disrepair are as different as they are unique. "Abandoned" doesn't necessarily require it to be in total disrepair. Some of these buildings are easy to get to and some will require a bit of planning: Each could be a side trip or a dedicated visit all its own. It's up to you to decide.

The Towers at the New York State Pavilion
The Towers at the New York State Pavilion over the lush greenery of Flushing Meadow Corona Park. (©Vincent Lammin/Flickr, Creative Commons)

New York State Pavilion

Approximately 51 million people flocked to the New York State Pavilion for the 1964-65 World’s Fair. Now off limits to the public except for special occasions, it remains an iconic piece of history.

 “The pavilion is the exclamation point of Flushing Meadows Corona Park,” said Jason Clement, director of community outreach for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The lush 1,255-acre urban landscape is the largest green space in Queens. 

Marking the Pavilion is an enormous concrete and steel structure combining a theater, three observation towers and a 100-foot high, open-air elliptical ring, dubbed the “Tent of Tomorrow.” Unlike other World’s Fair structures that moved or were razed, the “Tent” remained active until 1976, acting as a roller rink and concert venue, playing host to acts like Led Zeppelin.

In 1976, the roof—the world's largest suspension roof in 1964—was declared unstable and removed. The towers are off limits at all times but an incremental renovation project starting with the towers is currently in the works.

Just a scant 10 miles from mid-town Manhattan and two miles from the New York Mets’ Citi Field home, a stop at Flushing Meadow Corona Park and the New York State Pavilion is worth the journey to see the iconic pavilion.

Grand Central Parkway, Whitestone Expressway between 111 St. and College Point Blvd., Park Drive E

The Domes of Casa Grande, Arizona
The catepillar structure of domes are just part of the weird contruction. (©ReBeccaQuinn/Flickr, Creative Commons)

The Domes of Casa Grande

Located almost halfway between Phoenix and Tucson—just off Interstate 8—the mysterious multi-colored domes have been part of the Arizona landscape since ground was broken by InnerConn Technology, Inc. in 1982.

The company never moved into the domes from its home base of Mountain View, California, as was the plan before InnerConn defaulted on its loan. The bank took ownership of the company's unique complex and the domes were abandoned. The structure remained that way even after being purchased in 2006.

Rumored to be haunted, and with its eerie UFO-like construction, the best way to visit is to take in the cluster of domes from the road. If the "No Trespassing" signs around the property remain, that is the only legal way to do it.

7401 S. Thornton Road, Casa Grande, Arizona

The City Methodist Church, Gary, Indiana
The beauty of The City Methodist Church is still evident among the ruins. (©Boyd Hendrikse/Shutterstock)

The City Methodist Church

Just 25 miles outside Chicago, this nine-story building has become a place of fascination for urban explorers, sightseers and a hotspot for macabre film shoots. 

This example of traditional English Gothic style was built in 1926 for more than $1 million by Rev. William G. Seaman, funded by donations from the United States Steel Corp.—which founded the city of Gary, Indiana. Alongside the cathedral, the original structure included a four-story community center with classrooms, an auditorium, a motion picture booth, a banquet hall and kitchen, a fellowship garden, a large meeting hall, a gymnasium and a rooftop garden.

Once with a congregation of 3,000, the church's numbers dwindled to 300 by 1975. The congregation relocated and the structure was totally abandoned by 1980 before a fire badly damaged the structure in 1997. Amidst the decay and rubble, it remains a popular attraction.

Entry into the church for a day is legal, for $50. Ben Clement, the executive director of Gary Office of Film & Television, said the money isn't paramount.  

“It’s not why we do it,” said Clement. “We want to make sure the city is indemnified…The city checks the structure from time-to-time, but they are abandoned buildings.”

The church has been used in feature films including “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (2010) and NetFlix’s “Sense 8” series (2015). 

“It gives the city of Gary a different niche," Clement said. “The residents appreciate when we get a nice film.”

577 Washington St., Gary, Indiana

Michigan Central Station
Corinthian columns nearly 70 feet tall were once the jewel for the Michigan Central Station. (©Thomas Hawk/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Michigan Central Station

When it opened in 1913, the Michigan Central Station—or the MCS as it's known in Detroit—was magnificent. The three-story station was the tallest station in the world at the time. Visitors got glimpses of the splendor immediately when entering the main waiting room and walking through bronze doors onto the marble floors. Travelers were treated to bronze chandeliers and huge 68-foot Corinthian columns.

The station lies dormant and dilapidated, as it has been since it closed in 1988.  In the 1990s, the vacant station was open to trespassers and vandals, and significant portions of the interior were destroyed. Curiously, new windows were installed on December 21, 2015, but the station remains abandoned.

Michigan Central Station
Michigan Central Station stands forrbodingly over Detroit. (©Kate Sumbler/Flickr, Creative Commons)

The advent of Detroit's automobile industry and the rise of plane travel helped push the station’s decline, although the building is still an imposing landmark in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood. Recognition by the National Register of Historic Places saved the station from being demolished in 1976.

Now owned by the Moroun family, little is known about what will happen to the Michigan Central Station but it remains a place that the curious seek while visiting Detroit.

2001 15th St., Detroit, Michigan

Cape Romano Dome House, Florida
In 2007, the Dome House was still accessible by the beach. (©Gunboats/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Cape Romano Dome House

Located on the southwest tip of the island of Cape Romano—one of the nearly 10, 000 islands—the dome house is accessible by boat from Marco Island about 50 miles south of Naples.

The group of six white concrete structures built in 1980 by Bob Lee were abandoned by the family in 1992 after Hurricane Andrew destroyed the interior. The property was sold in 2005, but plans for relocation were delayed and by 2009 the pillars were underwater.

Cape Romano Dome House, Florida
(©Krugler/Flickr, Creative Commons)

 Marco Island Water Sports Inc runs shelling and dome tours three days a week, depending on the month. Tour guide Brian Gibb has seen the reactions to the house, which is now a floating attraction.

“Most of the people wonder, ‘what is that,’” said Gibb. “When I started 10 or 11 years ago I was able to walk out to the house but now it’s about 100 feet out.”

Cape Romano, Florida

City Hall Subway Station, New York, New York
The curved entryway with the amethyst glass skylight is a calling card of the City Hall station (©Felix Lipov/Shutterstock)

City Hall Subway Station

Opened in 1904, the City Hall Subway Station is an example of elegant, Romanesque Revival architecture with its the curved entryways, chandeliers, leaded amethyst glass skylights and vaulted tile ceiling.

The station was shut down in 1945, then reopened in 1995 as a branch of the New York Transit Museum, which ran occasional tours. Today, the station can be seen via the museum’s tours—members-only tours for $50 that sell out fast—throughout the year.

Another way to try to see the station is to board the downtown 6 train at the Brooklyn Bridge station. You can ask if the conductor will allow you stay aboard as the train makes a loop, passing through the station on its way back uptown.

Park Row and City Hall Park, New York, New York