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26 Breathtaking Pictures of Abandoned and Forgotten Places

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Photographer Matt Emmett doesn't pay attention to signs that say "do not enter." While traveling around Europe, the urban explorer looks for the eerie beauty found in the derelict and forgotten. Emmett has photographed everything from abandoned hotels to power stations; before entering a new location, he always reads up about the history first. He offers a detailed description of each picture he takes on his Flickr

"I enjoy being in such magnificent places alone or in a small group," Emmett told mental_floss. "The atmosphere that hangs over a derelict power station or steel plant, for me, puts them on a level with the Angkor Wat's or Machu Pichu's of this world." 

You can see more of his work on his website, Twitter, or Facebook page

A rooftop view of an abandoned asylum in Northern Italy. A lot of the medical equipment and machines can still be found inside. 

A ruined chapel at a private residence in Italy.

The inside of a cooling tower in Belgium. 

A crane in an old factory. 

A radome in Belgium.

Inside the radome.

The overgrown window of a UK manor house. 

A decaying library in a manor house in England. 

Faded fresco paintings cling to the walls of the entrance hall at a large abandoned Villa complex.

This strange structure was created by an artist to house himself and his sheep. It's located on private land in the Cotswolds, England. 

Rusting radar dishes along the Norfolk and Lincolnshire coast in England. 

The banister of an abandoned Italian villa. It was converted into a psychiatric hospital in the 1800s. 

Light shining through the Oculus Tower in Italy. The factory was used to process sugarbeets in sugars and oils. 

Wooden cabinets that were used to hold patient information at a psychiatric hospital in Northern Italy.

An old television sits by the window in England. 

A ruined colonnade encased in foliage. This photo is one of the photographer's favorites. 

A home abandoned after a fire during World War II. 

A statue of Neptune in the UK. 

A Victorian reservoir located under the streets of London, England. "The echo in here had fantastic delay to it, my whoop coming back to me around four seconds after it left my mouth," Emmett said. 

A surgery room at an abandoned psychiatric hospital. "The hospital was famous in the 1930s for being one of the pioneering sites for the research and early practice of frontal lobe lobotomy," Emmett writes.

A long hallway of a military hospital used to take care of U.S. soldiers during the Gulf War. "Places like this remind me that [nature] always prevails and nothing we create can ever stand up to her and the passage of time," Emmett said. 

Another view of the Oculus Tower in Italy. 

A tunnel in underground London. 

Photographer and son in the Box Quarry in the UK. 

A jet engine test area at Pyestock NGTE, a Royal Aircraft Establishment facility in Fleek, UK, that has since been demolished.

Inside an empty castle in Italy. 

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Courtesy Sotheby's
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You Can Buy the Oldest Surviving Photo of a U.S. President
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Courtesy Sotheby's

The descendent of a 19th-century U.S. Congressman has discovered a previously unknown presidential portrait that is likely the oldest surviving photograph of a U.S. president, The New York Times reports.

Previously, two 1843 portraits of John Quincy Adams were thought to be the oldest photographs of a president still around. Currently hanging in the National Portrait Gallery, one of them was found on sale at an antique shop in 1970 for a mere 50 cents. Now, an even older photo of the sixth president has been uncovered, and it’ll cost you more than 50 cents to buy it.

Adams sat for dozens of photographs throughout his life, so it’s not entirely surprising that a few more surviving portraits would be uncovered. At the time this newly discovered half-plate daguerreotype was taken in March 1843, Adams had already served out his term as president and had returned to Congress as a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts. The photo was taken by Philip Haas, who in August of that same year would take other daguerreotypes that we previously thought were the oldest surviving photos. (Despite his apparent willingness to be photographed, Adams called them “all hideous.”)

John Quincy Adams sits in a portrait studio in 1843.
Courtesy Sotheby's

After having three daguerreotypes taken that day in March, Adams gave one of them to his friend and fellow Congressman Horace Everett, inscribing it with both their names. Everett’s great-great-grandson eventually found it in his family’s belongings and is now putting it up for sale through Sotheby’s.

It isn't the oldest picture of a U.S. president ever taken, though. The first-ever was actually a portrait of William Henry Harrison made in 1841, but unlike this one, the original has not survived. (The Metropolitan Museum of Art owns a copy of it, which was made in 1850.)

The head of the Sotheby’s department for photographs, Emily Bierman, told The New York Times that the newly discovered image is “without a doubt the most important historical photo portrait to be offered at auction in the last 20 years.” (She also noted that the former POTUS is wearing “cute socks” in it.)

The daguerreotype will be on sale as part of a photography auction at Sotheby’s in October and is expected to sell for an estimated $150,000 to $250,000. Start saving.

[h/t The New York Times]

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9 Exhilarating Close-Up Photos of Sharks
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Dive into the world of Shark, a new book by award-winning photographer Brian Skerry.

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