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8 Popular Tourist Attractions That No Longer Exist

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Being popular isn't everything. After 20 years of housing chewed-up gum, the beloved Seattle’s Gum Wall got a thorough cleaning in November. The colorful gum was deemed destructive to the structure of the brick Pike Place wall and wiped away. And while officials are resigned to the fact that the future visitors have already begun to revive the tradition, for now the iconic wall is a relatively blank slate.

But the Gum Wall wasn’t the first tourist attraction to be closed, demolished, or undone despite its popularity. Take a look at eight other places you used to be able to visit.

1. SUTRO BATHS // SAN FRANCISCO

The world’s largest indoor swimming complex, the Sutro Baths, opened to the public on March 14, 1896. Built by millionaire and then mayor of San Francisco Adolph Sutro, the structure boasted fine art and natural history exhibits as well as seven seawater pools—all heated to different temperatures— that had space for up to 10,000 swimmers at once. Sutro designed the baths to be a weekend destination for the average San Franciscan, keeping prices low and even building an affordable railroad to transport patrons to Lands End. But even those accommodations failed to make the Baths financially viable.

After his death, Sutro’s descendants turned part of the Baths into an ice rink and other amenities hoping to entice additional visitors to no avail. With the Great Depression, reduction in public transportation, and stricter health codes all at play, the baths stayed in the red. Sutro’s grandson sold the property out of the family for $250,000 in 1952 and the new owners were no more successful in turning a profit—despite adding a waterfall and an arcade. The Sutro Baths were shuttered for good in 1966 and soon burned down in what was deemed a suspicious fire. Although the Baths themselves are no longer standing, the seaside ruins have become a popular destination.

2. LOVE LOCKS ON PONT DES ARTS // PARIS

In just a few years, the Pont des Arts Bridge in Paris amassed about 700,000 locks from sentimental couples looking to be part of a short-lived tradition tied to everlasting love. The practice of carving the couple’s initials into a padlock, fastening it to the bridge, and throwing the key into the river below has been traced to a 2006 Italian book and movie. However, it really took off on this particular bridge in Paris starting in 2008.

In 2012, critics started to complain that the literal weight of all this sentiment was too much for the bridge. It was estimated that the locks amounted to 45 tons and one giant eyesore. This past summer, the lock-laden metal grills were removed from the the bridge and replaced with temporary panels. They are currently being upgraded to plexiglass in order to provide a better view of the river—with nowhere to affix padlocks.

3. VIDÁMPARK // BUDAPEST, HUNGARY

Vidámpark, also known as the Amusement Park of Budapest, occupied the same grounds for 175 years. In that time, the park survived fires, WWII bombings, communism, and multiple redesigns. But waning attendance in recent years left the park economically crippled. Season attendance had dropped from 2.7 million at its peak in the 1970s to fewer than 300,000 in 2012. News of a permanent closure started swirling in 2010, but the park lasted until 2013, when it finally shuttered for good in early October. The nearby zoo will likely absorb the land, but some of the rides will be protected for their historic value: a Hullámvasút wooden roller coaster built in1922, a carousel from 1906, and a cave railway from 1912.

4. GUAÍRA FALLS // BORDER BETWEEN PARAGUAY AND BRAZIL

Although sometimes known as “Seven Falls,” Guaíra Falls was located on the Paraná River that divides Paraguay and Brazil and was actually a series of 18 waterfalls. While not the tallest in the world at 114 meters high, it was one of the most powerful. The volume of water per second was twice that of Niagara Falls and the deafening sound could be heard from up to 30 kilometers away. The natural wonder attracted hordes of tourists each year, but that wasn’t enough to save it from demolition by the Brazilian army in 1982 in order to create the Itaipu Dam, still the largest operating hydroelectric plant by annual electricity production.

Tourists flocked to the Falls in the final months, eager for a last look, and in January 1982, this popularity resulted in an unfortunate tragedy: A crowded bridge collapsed, killing 80 people. Still, the disaster didn’t stop hundreds of people from gathering to participate in a 14-day ritual goodbye to the Falls.

5. HERITAGE U.S.A. // FORT MILL, SOUTH CAROLINA

In 1986, a park map billed the third most-visited amusement park in America as “A Special Place for God’s People.” Built in 1978 by Pentecostal televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker of the PTL Church, Heritage USA was a sprawling compound that combined conservative religion with earthly indulgences. At 2300 acres, it was larger than either Disneyland or the Magic Kingdom—by a factor of 25—and was far more than just rides. Campgrounds, hotels, and even condominiums encouraged visitors—six million a year by the mid-1980s—to stay for a while, or forever.

Things started to crumble in 1987 when news broke of Jim Bakker's sexual encounter with a woman seven years before, and his use of funds from his church to cover it up. From there, a federal investigation found him guilty of twenty-four charges related to mismanagement of the PTL’s financial dealings. Then, a hurricane in 1989 destroyed some of its buildings, prompting Heritage USA to close for good. Since then, other televangelists have attempted to revive the compound with no success.

6. WEDDING CAKE ROCK // NATIONAL PARK, AUSTRALIA

A photo posted by Jacob Knero (@jacobknero) on

Named for its striking white appearance, Wedding Cake Rock has long been a popular spot for dramatic photos—by pros and tourists alike. But this year, officials noticed a dramatic uptick in visitors. Roughly 2,000 visitors a month became 10,000 when daredevil shots of yogis and thrill-seekers started circulating on Instagram. By then, at least one person had died falling from the photogenic cliff. A temporary fence was installed in May, 2015 in an attempt to forestall any further disaster and the regulations are unlikely to be relaxed after a report this summer revealed that the perilous formation could collapse any time in the next decade.

7. THE ORIGINAL PENN STATION // NEW YORK CITY

The original Pennsylvania Station, completed in 1910, was more than just a bustling hub in the first half of the 20th century; it was also a magnificent Beaux-Arts landmark to rival Grand Central. Designed by McKim, Mead, & White, the architectural firm responsible for Theodore Roosevelt-era renovations to the White House, the above-ground portion of the terminal was inspired by the Acropolis, the Brandenburg Gate, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Roman Baths, and the Bank of England. At the turn of the century, the Pennsylvania Railroad was the largest corporation in the world and its New York station was fittingly impressive—built to accommodate 200,000 passengers per day for up to 100 years. But the landmark didn’t last that long.

At the peak of train travel in the mid 1940s, Penn Station welcomed 109 million people a year into New York City, but soon after, automobile and air travel surged, railroad traffic suffered, and the company was left strapped for cash. They sold the airspace above the platforms to a local real estate firm in 1954. Concerned citizens protested the plans for a stadium, but to no avail. Demolition began on October 28, 1963, which the New York Times [PDF] called an "act of vandalism against one of the largest and finest landmarks of its age of Roman elegance."

8. CHACALTAYA GLACIER // CHACALTAYA, BOLIVIA

The altitude effects from being atop Chacaltaya mountain kept Bolivia’s only ski resort from ever becoming overly popular. But for serious thrill-seekers who didn't mind the remote location accessible only by a dirt road, the world’s highest ski resort was a bucket-list destination. Until it melted. Starting in the 1990s, scientists noticed that rising temperatures from climate change were causing the glacier atop Chacaltaya to melt at an alarming rate. Experts predicted that it would disappear by 2015—but even that was an underestimation. In 2009, the snow—and the superlative ski run—disappeared for good. This was bad news for more than just snow-sport enthusiasts: the glaciers of the Andes are the source of drinking water and hydroelectric power for more than 80 million people in the area.

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National Geographic Ranks The 25 Happiest Cities in the Country
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Feeling unhappy? Maybe it's time to move. National Geographic recently released rankings of the 25 happiest cities in the U.S. The results: Eight of the 25 locations are in the Golden State, but the honor of No. 1 happiest city goes to Boulder, Colorado.

The rankings are based on 250,000 interviews conducted in 190 metropolitan areas between 2014 and 2015. The survey—developed by Dan Buettner, author of the new book The Blue Zones of Happiness, and Dan Witters, a senior scientist at Gallup—looked for data points that are correlated with life satisfaction and happiness, like whether or not you exercise, if you feel safe in your community, whether you feel like you live within your means, and whether you feel like you are reaching your goals.

A map of the U.S. showing which cities made the top 25 happiest cities index.
Courtesy National Geographic

Of course, all that isn’t necessarily the result of your geographical location. But you don’t see cities like Los Angeles or New York—where wealth is also clustered—on the list, so presumably San Franciscans are doing something a little differently.

Take a look for yourself. Here are the 25 happiest places in the U.S., according to the results.

1. Boulder, Colorado
2. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, California
3. Charlottesville, Virginia
4. Fort Collins, Colorado
5. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, California
6. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California
7. Provo-Orem, Utah
8. Bridgeport-Stamford, Connecticut
9. Barnstable Town, Massachusetts
10. Anchorage, Alaska
11. Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Florida
12. Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, California
13. Salinas, California
14. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida
15. Urban Honolulu, Hawaii
16. Ann Arbor, Michigan
17. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California
18. Colorado Springs, Colorado
19. Manchester-Nashua, New Hampshire
20. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California
21. Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria, Virginia/Maryland/West Virginia
22. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota/Wisconsin
23. San Diego-Carlsbad, California
24. Portland-South Portland, Maine
25. Austin-Round Rock, Texas

You can grab a copy of November’s National Geographic to read more about the world’s happiest places.

The cover of Dan Buettner’s The Blue Zones of Happiness and the cover of November 2017’s National Geographic.
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A Beautiful Italian Town Will Pay You Up to $2350 to Move There
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GUGLIELMO D'AREZZO, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

For quaint Italian villages, the future is looking lonely. Small towns in the country have fast-dwindling populations as younger residents move away in search of job opportunities.

So Italian municipalities outside major cities have been going to extremes to try to drum up future residents, including giving away homes for free and simply outlawing dying. And now, in Candela, some two hours outside of Naples, the mayor has pledged to pay people to move in. According to CNN, Candela’s mayor, Nicola Gatta, is offering up to $2350 to anyone willing to relocate to the town.

Candela once boasted more than 8000 residents, but that number has since shrunk to 2700. (That’s not that small in comparison with some other Italian towns—fewer than 90 people call the seaside village of Ostano home, and there were zero children born in the town between 1987 and 2016.) Candela’s origins date back to medieval times, but now, many of its houses stand empty. Located in the agrarian “breadbasket of Italy," Candela was once known as "Little Naples" for its bustling city center.

The mayor's offer varies based on who’s willing to move. If you’re single, you will receive around $950, while couples with no children will receive around $1400. Families of three will get up to $2100, and families of four or more will receive more than $2350.

There are contingencies, though. Residents have to rent a house in town for at least a year, and they have to work, earning a minimum annual salary of $8800. According to CNN, a few new residents have already moved in.

Sounds like it's time to pick up and move to Italy.

[h/t CNN]

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