4 Of The Most Bizarre Small Towns In The World


The small town you grew up in may have had its charms. It may have been kind of kooky. There may have been some characters on every corner, and there may have been a unique little something that makes your town special and unlike any other.

Well, your town's claim to fame is nothing compared to these places.

Whittier, Alaska: A Town in One Building

4 Of The Most Bizarre Small Towns In The World

Some people grow up in small towns where friends and families are tightly packed together, only a handful of streets apart at the furthest. The Alaska town of Whittier took that idea to an extreme and then made it vertical like a rural attempt at bringing Judge Dredd's Mega-City One to life: Whittier is a town of around 200 residents, most of which live in one 14-story apartment building.

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And it only kind of looks like a crack house!

The Begich Towers is more than just a series of apartments, though; it's an entire community in a single building. It's home to the local police headquarters and the local post office. All local government operates out of the building, including the mayor's office. There's a laundromat, a grocery store, and a video store. If you're looking to get baptized, look no further than the church in the basement where the town pastor will dunk your head in a holy inflatable pool. If a resident wants to go on a relaxing stay-cation, they could stay at the bed and breakfast on the top floor and soak in all the exotic sights and sounds of being in the same place only slightly higher. There's also a health clinic that's probably been battling the same strains of cold and herpes since the 1950s.

4 Of The Most Bizarre Small Towns In The World
The California Sunday Magazine/Reed Young

True story: the cops (who live and work in the building) busted a pot ring on the 10th floor.
They gave the growing equipment to the school for a garden.

One of the few necessities not in the building is the local elementary school, which is directly across the street. The problem is, the temperature in Whittier often approaches Witch's Tit-levels of cold, so students have to ride an elevator to the basement of the building and then walk to school via underground tunnel like mole people. Outside of that, there isn't much beyond the walls of the Begich Towers other than a few eateries and a bar and many miles of desolation. The community is so small, so compact, so tightly knit, there's a good chance one yawn could infectiously creep its way from the mouth of patient-zero to every other person in the building within minutes. Before you know it, the whole town is a little sleepy and they don't know why.

Green Bank, West Virginia: The Town Without Tech

4 Of The Most Bizarre Small Towns In The World

There is a town in West Virginia that has banned nearly all of the ubiquitous gadgets and gizmos of the modern world. Cellphones, WiFi, microwaves, TV broadcasts -- any technology that transmits is not permitted, by law. The town even has its own anti-tech police force of one: a dude in a van filled with equipment meant to detect and hunt down electronic signals emanating from anything from an iPhone to an electric blanket. It's not a town that's been taken over by a powerful militant Amish army that imposed its draconian will upon the innocent residents of a sleepy town in the middle of nowhere. It's all because of a telescope -- and not one of them cheap shits you can find next to the Nerf guns at Target -- a really powerful telescope that can see far beyond the galaxy.

4 Of The Most Bizarre Small Towns In The World

The stone penis stands at attention as the robot high-fives the tiny metal lady.

That's the Green Bank Telescope. It's the world's largest fully steerable radio telescope, which means it can either be easily rotated to get a view of up to 85 percent of the entire celestial sphere above it or that it's an especially large car. It's also highly sensitive, able to detect tiny radiation signatures across space. That's why Green Bank can't have nice things -- all the signals emanating from the fancy doodads around the telescope could obscure its line of sight. Imagine you're a creep and you secretly snap pictures of hot chicks from afar with a long camera lens in your off-time. A tiny leaf in your line of sight wouldn't just be a small distraction; it would be a massive blob that completely obscures your view of the ladies.

4 Of The Most Bizarre Small Towns In The World
Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

"Is that ... a dwarf star? Wait: who pointed this thing at a bag of marshmallows?!"

A cellphone signal can interfere with the telescope. The spark plugs in gas-powered engines would be too disruptive, so everyone drives diesel-powered cars, because they don't have spark plugs. Green Bank has only one microwave, and it's locked in a cage that dampens its radioactive signatures. Flipping through the radio dial will result in station after station that plays 24/7 blocks of your favorite hits, such as "Nothing" and "Dead Silence" and "Hey, I think I Got Somethi- ... No, Wait. It Was Nothing."

And yes, people actually live there. Some of those people move there specifically because it's within the National Radio Quiet Zone. Over the years, Green Bank has become something of a safe haven for people with electromagnetic hypersensitivity, a sickness that's brought on by the electromagnetic waves emitted by pretty much everything that has electricity running through it. It also might be complete bullshit, which is why so many of Green Bank's natives hate all the electromagna-sensa-whatevers flocking to their little tech-less town.

4 Of The Most Bizarre Small Towns In The World

Peachtree City, Georgia: The Town Where Golf Carts Rule

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Tony Bernard

About 30 miles southwest of Atlanta is Peachtree City, Georgia. Peachtree City is only 23.9 square miles, yet it has two 18-hole golf courses and one 27-hole course. For perspective, Manhattan is 22.8 square miles. So imagine two full-size and one mega-size golf courses spread around New York. Peachtree loves their golf. They love it so much that residents have adopted the most fun part of golf into their daily lives: driving golf carts. Peachtree City is the golf cart capital of the world.

Over 9,000 households in Peachtree City own a golf cart. That's more than any other place on Earth by a long shot. Why would so many people need so many golf carts? I can't speak to whether they all just love golf that much, but I'm going to guess it has something to do with the 90-plus miles of golf cart paths the town has packed into its 23.9 square miles of land.

4 Of The Most Bizarre Small Towns In The World
Tony Bernard

Golf carts are a way of life. The entire town has conformed to the golf cart lifestyle like someone lied to them and told them everything is fine and life is one big resort vacation. People can go anywhere in town on a golf cart. Children too? Yup! Once a kid hits 12 in Peachtree City they can legally drive a golf cart as long as they're accompanied by a guardian. At 15 they can cart their asses around town without supervision. Golf carts are to high-schoolers in Peachtree what hot rods and dragsters were to kids in the 1950s. On any given day, hundreds of carts can be seen driving people around with hardly a full-sized car in sight.

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The local police department has a special golf cart patrol unit, and plenty of local businesses have golf cart parking spaces. At least one high school would prefer if their students drove to school in golf carts due to limited parking.

Hogewey Village in Weesp, Netherlands: The Fake Dutch Town Where Everyone Has Dementia


There's a grocery store in the small Dutch village of Hogewey. Residents fill their carts at the market, put items on the conveyor belt, and the cashier pretends to scan them but, really, is just moving them along to be bagged. No money is exchanged, and the shopper walks away with free food. It's all a facade to make village residents feel at home and at ease, to go through the motions of common activities without confusion. This is because all of Hogewey's 152 residents have severe dementia, and this little village where everything looks like it was created by Disney Imagineers to be reminiscent of another time and another place makes them feel normal again. It's an elaborate nursing home disguised as a town.

4 Of The Most Bizarre Small Towns In The World

They've been making that left for 47 years.

The idea was to surround dementia patients with other sufferers who have similar likes and interests. Living areas of Hogewey are divided into seven styles, each designed to simulate the environments of the residents' youths. There's one for the art lovers, one for the city-dwellers, one for those raised around religion, one for the wealthy upper-crusters, one for the blue-collar types, one for the stay-at-home-mom types, and one for patients of Indonesian heritage. Even the style of each apartment is designed to feel like it came straight out of the decade the resident would be most comfortable living in. Every single aspect of the village has been specially made to remove the confusion of everyday life and kindly trick the patients into thinking this isn't a nursing home -- it's their home.

All of the workers in the village hair salon, movie theater, and restaurant are caregivers trained to assist dementia patients. They're all disguised as normal people, wearing normal clothing. No white scrubs -- nothing that would make it feel like a hospital. All of the other 250-plus workers are "neighbors" or "family friends" or, for the residents used to the rich life, "servants."

It's a hell of a lot of time and money dedicated to making life simpler for dementia patients, but there appear to be positive results. Hogewey says its patients require less medication and experience more overall joy compared with patients in traditional facilities. The world the patients live in might be a lie, but considering all the other options out there, maybe a little lie isn't so bad.

Luis is too lazy to come up with something clever for this little blurb at the bottom of his column. While he thinks of something clever for next week, you can find him on Twitter and Tumblr.

For more from Luis, check out 4 Obnoxious Behaviors The Modern World Made Worse and 4 Things I Learned When I Tried to Sell a House on My Own.

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