SOME ARE EYESORES, drawing vandalism and their share of vermin. Others are shut up tight, weathering years of neglect. Either way, I’m drawn in. I romanticize train travel the way people my parents’ age romanticize trolleys, or paying 5 cents to go to the movies.
And I’m not the only one who stops to look at abandoned train stations. Below are 21 examples from other photographers from around the world who also found them photo-worthy.
Folkestone, Kent, UK
This train line has opened and closed a number of times since it first reached Folkestone in 1843. The entire line was shut down in 2002...and has subsequently re-opened and closed again. Local train enthusiasts hope to get the line running once more, but it’s not clear whether this station would be refurbished either way.Photo:tobyct
Zúñiga, Basque Country, Spain
A crumbling station in Navarre, one of seven regions belonging to Spain's Basque Country.Photo:fraufrida
City Hall subway station, New York City
For 41 years, from 1904 to 1945, the elaborately designed and decorated City Hall station was used by what is now referred to as the IRT (number trains) in the New York City Subway. It's no longer a functioning station, though the number 6 trains turn around here. The MTA transit museum occasionally runs tours at a cost of $40. The next tour is Nov. 4th, 2012.Photo:JoeInSouthernCA
Abandoned and once burned, but now reconstructed and refurbished, the Chamberí train station is accessible from Plaza Chamberí in Madrid. Entrance is free, and more information is available here (in Spanish).Photo:Daniel Dionne
Train to Beirut, Lebanon
This train station connected Bhamdoun to Beirut, and was abandoned in favor of road transportation. The station was damaged during the civil war in Lebanon between 1975 and 1990.Photo:rabiem22
Photographer Ray Devlin says, “The once grand station entrance to Coatbridge Central, now a disused pub and restaurant.”Photo:Ray Devlin
Croix Rouge Metro, Paris, France
This station served Paris’ 6th arrondissement on line 10 for a very short time, from 1923 until France entered the Second World War in 1939. At that point it was closed and never reopened, due to its proximity to other functioning stations. The site can be glimpsed from the passing 10 train, but there are no official visits.Photo:(vincent desjardins)
Buffalo, NY Central Terminal
This terminal, with its 15-story tower, had its heyday from 1929 to 1979, and has been disused as a train station since then. It's changed hands a number of times, occasionally being used for gala events, but has been abandoned for over 20 years and suffered vandalism. It was recently acquired by the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation.Photo:dmealiffe
Michigan Central Station, Detroit, Michigan
This was the tallest railroad station in the world when it was built in 1913. Cessation of its Amtrak service in 1988 shuttered it, and active efforts to maintain the structure and repurpose the building continue.Photo:Яick Harris
A train abandoned near an old Belgian customs office, close to the border with Germany. The train yards that surround it were bombed by British forces in 1944.Photo:Flowizm
Champ du Mars, Paris, France
This is part of a set of stations at a terminal whose history dates back to the 1867, 1878, and 1900 World's Fairs, though it was demolished and reconstructed several times. It was abandoned definitively in 1971.Photo:boklm
Monsville Station, Belgium
This station is located in the suburb of Monsville, a suburb of Mons, a Walloon city in Belgium. The station was built in 1864, and the train served coal mines in the area. Coal production in the area stopped in the 1960s and the train discontinued. This train station lies along the GR-412, a 173-mile footpath in southern Belgium.Photo:LHOON
Azcuénaga Station, Partido de San Andrés de Giles, Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina
This hamlet, in the province of Buenos Aires, was founded together with the construction of the train station, inaugurated in 1880.Photo:Doblevece
Many abandoned train stations are boarded up, but that does not stop some photographers from going in to take photographs.Photo:Yndra
Harlem 125th Street subway station, New York City
This is part of the original Harlem 125th Street station, and is underneath the Metro North (commuter line) train tracks. It's not currently used, but another 125th Street station is located across the street.Photo:write99
This station was finished in 1880, was at one point the largest railway station in Continental Europe, and was abandoned in 1952. In 1960, it was almost completely demolished, but the center front façade was left standing and has been refurbished several times. It faces Askanischer Platz.Photo:maha-online
From Arequipa to Chivay, Peru
From Arequipa, heading northeast on 34-A, sits this abandoned train station. Many travelers drive this road and stop in Chivay before continuing into Colca Canyon.Photo:www.world-wide-gifts.com
An abandoned station visible from the street in REO Town, a district of Lansing, Michigan, located south of downtown. Inside the station are hanging lights and evidence of occupation by squatters.Photo:photoshoparama - Dan
Joplin Union Depot, Joplin, Missouri
The Joplin Union Depot railroad station was in use from July 1911 until November 1969, and was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 in an attempt to protect it from further deterioration.Photo:Matthew Yaktine
This station served the small city of Retalhuleu in the southwest of Guatemala. Just 15km from the city is Abaj Takalik, one of the largest Pre-Columbian ceremonial sites in the Pacific plain. The site has both Olmec and Mayan features, and was continuously occupied for 2,000 years, from the 9th century BC to the 10th century AD.Photo:ANTONIOLEDERER
Photographer Ron Reiring says, “Built in 1885 in Nashville, Illinois, by the Louisville & Nashville Railroad… It appears this station has had some attempts at restoration, but currently it's an empty derelict.”Photo:kla4067
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Eileen Smith is the editor of Matador Abroad. She's an ex-Brooklynite who's made a life in Santiago, Chile. She's a fluent Spanish speaker who can be found biking, hiking, writing, photographing and/or seeking good coffee and nibbles at most hours of the day. She blogs here.