Lazy Cyclists Help Make These Massive Bike Graveyards in China

STR/AFP/Getty Images
STR/AFP/Getty Images

When bike share programs go right, they can make life easier for commuters while reducing a city’s impact on the environment at the same time. When they don't go exactly as planned, they can create sprawling bicycle graveyards like the one seen in these photos.

The eerie scenes, recently spotlighted by WIRED, can be found throughout the city of Hangzhou, China. Like many large cities, Hangzhou is home to an official bike share program. But there are also private bike share companies that give cyclists the option to pick up a bike and leave it wherever they please rather than return it to an official docking station. The result is thousands of bikes scattered around the city like junk.

In response to complaints, the city of Hangzhou has begun collecting these abandoned bikes and storing them in lots. These aerial images are a good indication of the sheer number of bikers the city has—and they also have a creepy, post-apocalyptic vibe. Check out the photos below.

Bike graveyard in China.
STR/AFP/Getty Images

Bike graveyard in China.
STR/AFP/Getty Images

Bike graveyard in China.
STR/AFP/Getty Images

[h/t WIRED]

When Pigeon Photographers Offered a Real-Life Bird’s-Eye View of the World

Julius Neubronner/Jennavecia, Wikimedia Commons // Public domain
Julius Neubronner/Jennavecia, Wikimedia Commons // Public domain

You’ve heard of carrier pigeons, but what about photographer pigeons? As The New Yorker reports, a German apothecary and inventor named Julius Neubronner advanced the field of aerial photography in the early 20th century by attaching cameras to his homing pigeons and setting them loose. Consider the birds the original drones.

Except that wasn’t Neubronner’s original intent when he built the pigeon camera back in 1907. He occasionally used pigeons to deliver prescriptions to and from a sanatorium a few miles away from his home in Kronberg (near Frankfurt), and he wanted to track where they flew. So he set out to invent a solution.

His device consisted of a leather harness and aluminum breastplate that allowed a lightweight camera to be attached to a pigeon’s body. A built-in pneumatic timer let the pigeons snap multiple photos mid-flight. As The New Yorker notes, “Whether the cameras would actually capture the desired object, however, depended on luck and the whims of the pigeons.”

The patent for his invention was nearly rejected because the German patent office thought the apparatus was too heavy for pigeons to carry (it wasn’t). He eventually received a patent in 1908 and went on to showcase his invention at expositions in Dresden, Frankfurt, and Paris. He even made a bit of money by selling postcards showcasing the pigeons’ photos, which were snapped and developed on the spot.

At the time, aerial photos were only achieved through the use of balloons or kites, and the range of motion was limited in those cases. Neubronner’s clever use of the available technology was later adapted for wartime purposes, and Germany’s military tested out the pigeon cameras on Western Front battlefields, according to The Public Domain Review. However, airplanes quickly surpassed the pigeons' capabilities and “consigned Neubronner’s birds to their traditional role of carrying messages,” the Review notes. But their voyages live on in the photographs they captured.

An aerial photo of a hotel in Germany
Julius Neubronner/Jennavecia, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain Mark 1.0

[h/t The New Yorker]

Photographer Shows How Much Berlin Has Changed In the Past Century

David Köster, Lenstore
David Köster, Lenstore

Berlin has undergone radical changes in recent decades. Once the physical symbol of Europe during the Cold War, the capital of Germany is now an epicenter of different cultures representing the continent and beyond. For an idea of just how much the city has evolved in the past 100-plus years, from the pre-Soviet days of the early 20th century to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, check out the photos below.

For this series from Lenstore, German photographer David Köster recreated images captured in Berlin from pre-World War I through the end of the Soviet Era. He researched locations on Google Street View prior to shooting to ensure the angles matched perfectly. As you can see below, the historical, black-and-white photos taken decades ago have been blended into modern settings. The untouched, present-day photos show just how much things have changed—or in some cases, stayed the same.

One of the most dramatic contrasts shows the Berlin Wall in 1989 and today. The old photo depicts a graffiti-covered Berlin Wall cutting through scene, and in the second image, the previously blocked street is open to the viewer. In the new image, you can see the thick line that marks the spot where the wall once stood, a constant reminder that runs through the city.

Potsdamer Platz was in ruins during World War II, as the 1945 photograph shows, but today it's a popular city center and shopping district. The photograph of the Reichstag (the German parliament) taken 1929 shows a much different building than what stands today. After it caught fire in 1933, it sat empty for years and was finally reconstructed in the 1990s, following the fall of the wall. Other landmarks, like the Brandenburg Gate and Gendarmenmarkt, have remained pretty much unchanged over the decades.

After flipping through the collection, you can brush up on some facts about the city depicted in the photos.

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