el ganeden d'esmareldas

the garden of emeralds

Zaña, Chiclayo, Peru

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Before it was officially founded by Europeans, Zaña was inhabited by the indigenous Moche people. When it was colonized and established by Europeans on 29 November 1563, it was originally named Villa Santiago de Miraflores de Saña. 

In its early days, Zaña was a very busy city in Peru, filled with Spanish colonists as well as Indigenous and African slaves. There were also waves of Chinese and Japanese settlers who came looking for work in the sugar plantations. At its peak, Zaña had seven churches and was even considered as an option for the capital of Peru.

Zaña was an extremely important city in the early colonial Americas, and for this reason, it was also targeted by pirates and raids who would ransack the city of its riches. However, the true collapse of Zaña came when in the early 1720s, the Zaña River overflowed flooding the city of Zaña and causing the majority of the European colonists to flee the city, leaving behind their slaves.

Today, much of Zaña’s few inhabitants of descendants of the African and Indigenous slaves of early colonial Zaña. There remains the ruins of many churches and other buildings within the city, and Zaña, besides its small number of residents, is for the most part abandoned. It remains a major archeological site because of its importance in the early colonial Americas and because of its mix of American, European, African, and Asian cultures.

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Broadway, Virginia, US

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Broadway, Virginia lies in Shenandoah Valley near the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains, and has been booming since the 1850s, though it wasn’t formally incorporated until 1880. It was originally known as ‘Custer’s Mill’ and was successful as the railway ran through it and it was very fertile, being known as the ‘breadbasket’ of the Confederacy during the American Civil War. This being said, much of Broadway was destroyed in the war by a campaign by Union General Philip Sheridan called ‘The Burning’. Among buildings destroyed was the eponymous Custer’s Mill, and because of it’s destruction, the town was renamed Broadway. Broadway gained most of its population during  the 1940s from the poultry industry and after World War II. Despite the many abandoned buildings around town, Broadway is actually growing greatly, and today has a population of about 3,800 residents.

Gyékényes, Somogy, Hungary

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Gyékényes is a Hungarian town which lies right on the border between Hungary and Croatia. The area on which Gyékényes stands has been evidenced to be inhabited since Roman times. Gyékényes is first mentioned in 1380 CE, in which it was property that rotated between many families. In 1600, it was occupied by the Ottomans during the Siege of Nagykanizsa. The town wouldn’t be taken back until 1677 and today it has about 1000 citizens. The exact reason for the amount of abandoned buildings is unknown. The majority of buildings in Gyékényes are in style of Baroque or Neo-Baroque, with a more rural and simplistic appearance than typical Baroque buildings, as are many Baroque buildings in Hungary.

Coudersport, Pennsylvania, US

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Coudersport was founded when the Ceres Land Company purchased the land in 1796 to create a new town and county. Its name comes from a man, John Coudere, who provided loans so that the company could purchase the land. However, the land wasn’t settled until 1813, when a family of seven built a cabin. Shortly after, a blacksmith, mill, prison, bar, store, and school were created. As more mills were built, people moved to the town looking for work. Soon enough, Presbyterian and Methodist churches were founded. One of the resident’s homes is notable for being a station of the Underground Railroad. In his house, he had a secret room to hide fugitive slaves and many of the people of the town helped to hide the slaves as well. The town grew quickly, gaining a hotel, tannery, courthouse, and boarding school among other things. It is also notable for being the residence and death place of Eliot Ness, an American agent who strongly enforced Prohibition. Coudersport reached its peak population in 1900, at about 3,200 residents, and lost many of its residents in the 50s. Today, Coudersport has a population of under 2,500 residents.

41 46’26″N, 78 01’07″W

Chaitén, Los Lagos, Chile

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Chaitén was created before European conquer and was first explored by European conquistadors in the search for the City of the Caesars, a city of legend full of gold, silver, and diamonds, somewhere in the Andes. However, Chaitén was first officially listed as a town in 1940 and served as a port.

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Chaitén, 1950

In 2008, for the first time in over nine thousand years, the nearby Mt Chaitén volcano erupted. The city of Chaitén was evacuated while Mt Chaitén continued to erupt for months continuously. Because of the volcano, the town was also flooded due to lahars (extremely dangerous flows of mud, debris, and rocks) causing the nearby river to overflow. Currently, the town of Chaitén is being rebuilt, though there is controversy whether it should be or not because of the state it’s in. Some of the population has returned, and it currently has a population of 3,500 residents, of its original 7,000.

42 55’0″S 72 42’0″W

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Sparta, Georgia, US

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Sparta was established in 1795 and was a major producer in cotton. After a plantation owner in Sparta died, he left the estate to his daughter Amanda America Dickson, whose mother was a slave, and for a long time, she was believed to be the wealthiest Black woman in the US. Sparta lost most of its population in 1918 after World War I, when the market for cotton crashed. In 1921, Jean Toomer came to Sparta to work as a principal at a Black agriculture and industrial school, and later wrote about it in his first, and often considered most important, novel, Cane. Toomer would later go on to marry Dickson and become an important author and poet of the Harlem Renaissance. Today, there are about 1,500 residents in Sparta.

33°17′N 82°58′W

Georgetown, Colorado, US

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Georgetown First Presbyterian Church (Gothic Revival), built 1874

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Old Missouri Firehouse (Queen Anne/False Front), built 1875

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Georgetown Public School (Federal), built 1874, recently restored

Georgetown was established in 1859, during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush. It is named after one of the founders, George Griffith. Though it never found much gold, it made good amounts of money off of silver, which caused large population growth. By 1893, Georgetown had more than 10,000 residents. After this, the town began to lose its population as silver deposits dwindled. Georgetown has been used as a filming location for many movies, and as of today, it has around 1,000 residents.

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Map of Georgetown, 1874

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Georgetown, date unknown

39°42′45″N 105°41′45″W

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