A ghost town from space

Earth is Square has a neat post today about viewing Centralia, Pennsylanvia using fresh Bird’s Eye imagery on Bing Maps.  Centralia was an active town of about 1000 residents back in the early 1980’s, but now is home to only nine people.  The reason is due to an underground coal fire that’s been burning since the 60’s, and will continue burning for as many as 250 more years.

In 1984, congress provided $42 million to relocate residents out of town.  Once gone, most of the buildings were demolished.  A recent episode of Life After People (an excellent series on the History Channel) featured Centralia as an example of what happens 25 years after humans leave a city (building decay, etc).

I was hoping that Google’s Historical Imagery feature would show aerial footage from a time when the city was populated, but it only goes back to 1993.   Below are some before and after photos.  Check it out on Google Maps (with StreetView imagery) or Bing Maps to explore further.

centralia-beforeBefore the evacuation

centralia-beforeafterThen and now

centralia-ge-1993Centralia 1993, as seen in Google Earth using the Historical Imagery slider

centralia-bingCentralia today, in Bing Maps Bird’s Eye

centralia-streetviewCentralia today, in Google Maps Street View.  The fog makes it even creepier.

Comments

  1. Here are a couple aerials from 1974 that show the town and even smoke, which I assume is from the fires. These are public domain from USGS so feel free to use.

    http://www.gelib.com/temp/Centralia_1974.jpg

    http://www.gelib.com/temp/Centralia_1974b.jpg

  2. Oooh, I forgot about that “Life after People” episode.

    Hmm, Google has street views of Centralia.. now that is interesting (though I think some of that fog is also smoke).

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