America’s Ruins and Abandoned Places

Americans do not have to fly overseas to see ruins. Interestingly, the United States contains many ruins.

Some of America’s ruins are as spectacular as anything in Europe or India. Other American ruins have an eerie post-apocalyptic look. Thus, if you want to see ruins, you can find some of the most speculator abandoned buildings in the United States.

Some of these ruins are relics of past civilizations. Others are the remains of past eras of our own civilization. However, most of the places are spectacular and haunting.

Some of America’s most Spectacular and interesting Ruins include:

Grossinger’s Catskill Resort and Hotel and the Borscht Belt

In its heyday in the 1950s Commentary magazine called Grossinger’s “Waldorf in the Catskills.”

This massive resort was the jewel of the Borscht Belt, a vacation region favored by middle and upper class Jews from New York City. They called the area the Borscht Belt because many Russian-Jewish immigrants ate Borscht.

Grossinger’s Catskill Resort and Hotel in the 1970s

The Borscht Belt, or Jewish Alps, was part of the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York. Comedy legends Woody Allen, Joan Rivers, Jerry Lewis, Rob Reiner, and Mel Brooks got their start in the Borscht Belt. Grossinger’s Resort in Liberty, New York, was the most famous and luxurious of all the Borscht Belt hotels.

Jerry Lewis and Milton Berle entertained in Grosinger’s night clubs. Heavyweight boxing champion Rocky Marciano held his training camp at the resort.

Eddie Fisher and movie star Debbie Reynolds (Carrie Fisher’s parents) held their wedding at Grossinger’s. At its height, the resort’s amenities included an ice rink, tennis courts, swimming pools, year-round ski runs with artificial snow, and 1,400 hotel rooms. Some people think Grossinger’s inspired the resort in the movie Dirty Dancing.

Grossinger’s was a victim of cheap air travel, air conditioning, and growing travel opportunities. By the 1980s, it was easier for affluent New Yorkers to fly to Cancun or Miami than to drive the Catskills. Similarly, air conditioning meant New Yorkers no longer left the city during summer heat waves. As guests went elsewhere, Grossinger’s closed in 1986.

Grossinger’s Pool

Grossinger’s became a moss and vine-covered post apocalyptic environment. According to Atlas Obscura, they began demolishing Grossinger’s to clear the land for redevelopment in 2018. In February 2019, a developer announced plans to build a $50 million 250 room hotel and convention center on the Grossinger’s property.

Grosinger’s is one of several spectacular Borscht Belt ruins. Business Insider reports that the Howowack Lodge, Kutsher’s Country Club, the Nevele Grand Hotel, and the Pines Hotel sit abandoned.

Eerily, many of the crumbling resorts still contain some of their furnishings and fixtures. Frighteningly, there are still balls in the Howowack Lodge bowling alley.

Thus, even the most luxurious places can fall to ruin in just a few decades.

Spanish Fort, Texas

This abandoned fortification in Montaque County, Texas, near the Red River was built by the French, not the Spanish. However, early American settlers assumed Spaniards built the fortification, hence the name “Spanish Fort.”

The French abandoned the town after losing their North American territories in the Seven Years’ War (French and Indian War). In 1759, Taoya and Comanche forces defeated a Spanish force in the area and possibly used a canon in the Battle of the Twin Villages.

They eventually abandoned the site, but in 1859, Spanish Fort was reborn as a Texas cow town they called Burlington. They changed the name to Spanish Fort because another town had the name Burlington.

Spanish Fort Today By Renelibrary – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32302058

Spanish Fort thrived because of massive cattle drives along the Chisholm Trail in the 1870s. Spanish Fort was definitely a Wild West Town in its heyday, there were over 40 murders in the community.

By the 1880s, the railroads had reached Texas and the cattle drives were over. Consequently, Spanish Fort died. Death took a long time; however, all the town’s businesses and institutions closed by 1970. Thus, Spanish Fort contains the remains of three different civilizations and two different eras of American history.  

The El Quartelejo Ruins

The idea of a pueblo in Kansas is strange, yet archaeologists have found one. The El Quartelejo Ruins are located north of Scott City, in Scott County, Kansas.

Archaeologists think Puebloan refugees from New Mexico built El Quartelejo. Between 1680 and 1692, a massive revolt against Spanish rule turned New Mexico into a war zone. The rebels were successful at first, but eventually a Spanish Army from Mexico reconquered the region.

Historians think the Puebloans fled to Kansas and built El Quartelejo as a refuge. The refuge was short-lived because Spanish soldiers eventually found the location in 1706. The soldiers forced the refugees to return home to live under the rule of the King of Spain and the Church. Possibly to save their souls by preventing a return to their Native Religion.

By Plazak at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17458549

In 1720, Comanche, Ute, and Pawnee warriors wiped out a Spanish expedition near  El Cuartelejo. In 1878, Northern Cheyennes killed Colonel William Lewis of the US Army in the one of last Indian War battles in Kansas near El Quartelejo.

In 1898, Americans rediscovered the pueblo, which became a National Monument in 1964. The outline of the ruins has been restored, but the National Park Service considers El Quartelejo at risk because of water-related deterioration to the ruins.

Six Flags New Orleans/Jazzland

This 146.2 acre facility was one of the shortest-lived theme parks in history. The park opened in 2000 as Jazzland and became Six Flags New Orleans in 2003.

Hurricane Katrina flooded Six Flags New Orleans in August 2005. Twenty feet of water covered the park for days and four to seven feet of water flooded it for over a month. The Six Flags corporation wrote the flooded park off as a total loss.

Six Flags News Orleans never reopened. However, at least one ride, Batman the Ride still carries passengers. They tore Batman the Ride down, moved the pieces to Six Flags Fiesta in Texas, and rebuilt it as Goliath.

Six Flags East Orleans still sits empty in East New Orleans, Business Insider reports. Hauntingly, most of the rides and attractions and even many of the signs are still there. Plans to build a mall on the site or reopen the park never materialized.

By John Von Curd – Flickr: IMG_0525, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18072373

In 2019, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell told reporters her staff was “running numbers for demolition” of the theme park. However, the park was still standing in 2021.

Six Flags New Orleans is not totally unused. They have filmed movies including Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters,  Jurassic World, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes there. In addition, they shot some episodes of the Marvel series Cloak & Dagger at Six Flags New Orleans.

Six Flags New Orleans is not uninhabited. They had to remove over 100 alligators from the park for the filming of Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.

So yes, there are many ruins and abandoned places in America. These ruins should remind us that no civilization or institution lasts forever even recent successes can fall into ruin.