The 6 Weirdest Cities People Actually Live In
Look, we're idiots: None of us knows what, exactly, goes into city planning, but we assume it's probably a lot of distinguished gentlemen emailing each other about math, statistics and blueprints. But somewhere along the line, somebody accidentally CC'ed the insane asylum, and we wound up with the following civilizations that simply should not be:
Neft Dashlari: A Hacked Together City in the Middle of the Sea
Back in 1945, the USSR discovered oil just off the coast of Azerbaijan. The problem was that, at the time, no one had ever built an offshore oil rig before, so if they wanted to tap that ocean-bottom booty, they had to figure out how to do it from scratch. Not to be deterred by minor considerations such as reason, the USSR went ahead and built a massive multiplatform oil rig right out there in the middle of the ocean. When even more oil was discovered right next door, they didn't bother with a whole new platform; they just retired a boat, bolted it to the existing platform and started working on it. The Russians continued in this fashion until they wound up with Oily Rocks, a gargantuan city of oil workers, with over 120 miles worth of road built into the middle of the Caspian Sea.
"If you find yourself plummeting into the sea, you've gone too far."
Five thousand people live and work on Neft Dashlari, right there in the face of logic and Poseidon alike. But don't go thinking it's all bleak and inhospitable: Neft Dashlari is most of the way to a real city. Its features include electric power stations, a library, apartment buildings up to nine stories high, hostels for visitors/guests, hospitals, Palaces of Culture, bakeries and even lemonade workshops (leave it to the Soviets to append "workshop" to something as innocuous as "lemonade.")
They went a little crazy on the swimming pool, though.
But if there's one thing the Soviets weren't exactly known for, it was the reliability of their engineering; they always did prefer to glue things together with a combination of balls and aggressive optimism. As such, Neft Dashlari is now falling apart. Roughly 75 percent of it has rusted away, but the local citizens aren't leaving, because there's still enough oil to keep that bad boy running for another 30 years, or until the Splicers revolt. Whichever comes first.
Manshiyat Naser is a city with zero unemployment, extremely cheap housing and a populace that mostly describe themselves as "happy." Here's a picture of our idyllic little hamlet:
We're waiting for the '80s sitcom style "Our parents will be home in 10 minutes" cleaning montage.
No, that's not an "after" shot in an apocalyptic montage: That's how the city always looks. Because it's an entire society based solely around trash. Manshiyat Naser is located right next to Cairo, one of the largest cities on the continent, and Manshiyat Naser is where Cairo dumps all of its garbage.
"Literal mountains of filth? You shouldn't have!"
The citizens of Manshiyat Naser aren't just incredibly forgiving neighbors: They make their living off of the refuse. They collect it from Cairo, sort it and recover all the valuables for themselves -- from scrap metal to spare electronics. Though the city isn't exactly a utopia (it has no running water, inherent infrastructure or electricity), it's not just a bunch of hobos squatting, either: There are several permanent shops, streets and apartment buildings.
That's right: It's an entire society based on dumpster diving.
Great, now we have the Sanford and Son theme stuck in our heads.
Miyake-jima: Killer Japanese Island Is One Big Creepy Human Experiment
Miyake-jima is a small island off the coast of Japan practically untouched by tourists, despite the fact that it's only a few miles away from one of the densest populations in the world.
But that's probably only because the whole thing is nature's chemical weapons factory. Psh, some tourists are just pussies.
Pink Floyd fans just got one massive, collective boner.
Miyake-jima is located at the base of an active volcano, but their chief concern isn't explosions, or lava, but the sulfuric gas that "frequently reaches lethal levels." And yes, people still live there full time, even during those times when you can't breathe the air. It's a requirement that all citizens carry a gas mask with them at all times, since at any time, sirens may set off all across the island indicating fatal gas concentrations.
"Do you take this man to brrmfm rrrfrrmmm-mm brrm?"
So why do people still live there?
Or, more accurately:
For money! That science pays to them!
The Japanese government gives each resident a yearly paycheck just for existing where they shouldn't exist, in order to test the effects of constant sulfuric gas exposure on a stable population. So hey, if you love money and Japan, but hate breathing, feel free to check out the study for yourself here.
"No, that's close enough. We'll take your word for it that there's a city in there."
Yellow Fleet: Like That Movie 'The Terminal,' If Tom Hanks Was a City Made of Ships
During the Six Day War, a group of 15 ships hailing from eight different nations were abandoned in the Suez Canal.
Due to military and diplomatic maneuvering, it took an inexplicable eight years to get the ships out of the canal, so the odds of all the old crew members returning to reclaim their boats were pretty low. Luckily, this didn't turn out to be a problem, as the sailors never left. Though some of the crew were permitted to rotate out on a three-month basis, many opted instead to build up an ethnically and politically diverse society located entirely on an armada of marooned trading vessels.
This is only a small part. Consider it the Queens of the Yellow Fleet.
The Yellow Fleet had a regular church service every Sunday, a postal system that delivered mail between vessels and even a sort of economy based on ship-to-ship trading. But as you can imagine, spending most of a decade on a moored ship gets pretty boring, so they also organized entertainment. They had movie theaters and football fields, went water skiing, formed a yachting club, organized dances and even held their own rival Olympics in 1967.
"Setting up the 100-meter dash was a bitch."
Eventually, when the canal did clear, only the West German boats were still seaworthy. And they dutifully went on to deliver what remained of their precious cargo, which cost them eight years of their life to protect.
Yes, they delivered the hell out of those T-shirts.
"Heroes" seems like kind of an understatement.
Dwarf City: If Disney World Characters Really Looked Like That, Actually Lived There
China hasn't figured out a way to pirate political correctness yet, so being a minority there isn't exactly all break-dance competitions and inspirational after-school specials. It's mostly just good ol' cruelty and discrimination. Well, one man decided to give little people a place where they could join together to escape the bullying they experienced in normal society. By living their entire lives on display in the world's first live-in theme park:
It's the only city where stepladders outnumber people 4-to-1.
The founder of China's very own Dwarf City is a 44 year-old entrepreneur named Chen Mingjing. He claims that he created the park to help the little people of China, and the park has created hundreds of jobs for dwarfs that didn't exist before. That fact that the job involves dressing up in pink tutus and performing a slapstick version of Swan Lake doesn't seem to bother him.
Roughly 120 little people live in the city sized park in the mountains of Kunming, China. The one requirement for citizenship: You can't be taller than 4'3".
The citizens of Dwarf City live in houses shaped like mushrooms, dress up in fairy tale outfits and make their living off of souvenirs and tourism. While you might find this offensive, Dwarf City citizens find it slightly more offensive to starve to death. Minjing might be exploiting them, but the employees the New York Times spoke with seemed to be happy to finally be the ones reaping the benefits of the exploitation.
Hey, baby, if you got it, flaunt it.
Whether you agree with human rights groups that call it a callous gimmick, or the fun-sized employees who make it run, it does at least appear to have all of the trappings of a city, complete with a miniature police force, fire brigade and political system.
As much as we know we're going to hell for even thinking it, it's hard to get too mad about something that's just so damn adorable.
Well, just look at it.
Kowloon Walled City: The Wild West Meets Post-Apocalyptic Video Game Level
Located just outside of Hong Kong, Kowloon Walled City is where Chinese laws went to die. It all started toward the tail end of WWII, when China retook Kowloon from the Japanese. Thousands of squatters took advantage of the newfound Chinese protectorate and moved in with complete governmental protection.
Then, in 1948, the British went to clear the area, but failed so spectacularly that everybody, both English and Chinese alike, issued an official decree of "Screw that place." They agreed to let Kowloon be, but cut it off from all government services, which in communist China was pretty much everything: police, water, electricity, road maintenance, postal services and so on.
Basically, all the dead weight that holds truly great parties back.
They basically Thunderdomed a whole city, and then just walked away.
And to everybody's mutual surprise, Kowloon absolutely thrived on the anarchy.
For 30 years, the city experienced explosive growth in terms of population and square footage: The city was only .01 square miles, yet housed roughly 33,000 people, making it the most densely populated area in world history. Unlicensed 12-story buildings shot up with no planning, untaxed businesses cropped up everywhere and a private legion of often unaccredited doctors tended to the populace. Kowloon citizens even jury-rigged up their own water and electric grids, and though it looked like Tim Burton was their city planner ...
"What's this? What's this? There's color everywherrrre ..."
... it mostly worked. Since there was no law to speak of in Kowloon Walled City, opium bars could be found everywhere, prostitution rings operated openly, gambling dens were commonplace and anybody wanting to avoid the cops had a landlocked Tortuga to retreat to whenever they felt like it.
In Kowloon Walled City, everything was handled by the individual, not the government, and astoundingly, the whole thing didn't implode on itself. But after 30 years, the Chinese finally got it in their heads that Crime Fortress might not be a good thing to have right next to Hong Kong, so they tore it down and built a park.
And rumor has it that on some dark and lonely nights, you can still hear the howling of the libertarians.
For more bizarre places to live in, check out The 6 Best Towns To Live in (If You Have a Death Wish) and The 6 Creepiest Places on Earth.
And stop by LinkSTORM to see whose cardboard house is creepier: John Cheese's or Gladstone's.
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