el ganeden d'esmareldas

the garden of emeralds

Norway, Kansas, US

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Not much is known about Norway. The name is believed to be derived due to the large early Norwegian population and it got a post office in 1870. Norway today has a population around 150 residents.

39 41’48” N, 97 46’30” W

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Goussainville (Le Vieux Village), Val-d’Oise, France

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The origin of the name ‘Goussainville’ is likely from the way the French named rural land in earlier times (around the 4th century). The owners’ surname would simply be attached to the suffix -ville as to say ‘villa of (surname)’. The earliest mention of Goussainville, however, is in the 9th century in 832 in a charter of the monks of Abbey of St Denis, who then owned the land. The church, St Peter and St Paul, of which ruins of it remain today, is first mentioned in the 12th century. Some of the lords of Goussainville later participated in the Crusades in the 13th century. In 1870, the Prussians occupied part of Goussainville and destroyed some of the town’s documents and burned buildings. In 1905, a sugar factory was built in Goussainville and operated for 80 years, bringing many jobs to town and turning it to a city. Much urbanization occurred during the 60s, which brought schools, businesses, and transport to the city.

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Le Vieux Village, year unknown. ‘Au Paradis’ is still standing, though abandoned, and you can still see its painted letters. However, I was unable to get an image of it through Google Earth as that part of the town had no coverage.

The part of the city in the image shown is called ‘Le Vieux Village’ or the ‘Old Village’. Residents of Le Vieux Village were not happy with the construction of the Charles de Gaulle airport nearby, because of the noise, and many of them began to leave the village as the airport was being built. Shortly later in 1973, before the airport had even opened, the Paris Air Show was being held. A new plane being tested there, the Tupolev Tu-144, crashed into Le Vieux Village during its flight, killing all six crew on board and eight residents of the neighbourhood. After this, nearly all the remaining residents left Le Vieux Village. Later in 2000, Air France Flight 4590 caught fire and crashed into a hotel from the Charles de Gaulle airport, just 6km from Le Vieux Village. All 109 people on the plane died along with four on the ground.

Today, Le Vieux Village has a few residents left (estimated 10 households max) and has now received attention and is visited for sight seeing of the ruins of the St Peter and St Paul Church and the rest of the village.

49°01′33″N 2°28′28″E

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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

Knaptoft, Leicestershire, England

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It’s not known when Knaptoft was established, but it’s existed as early as the 13th century, when its church was built. Its name is believed to descend from Old Scandinavian, knappr meaning the top of a hill, and toft meaning a home, though it has been recorded under plenty names, one of them being Cnapetot. Most of the residents made fabric for a living or raised livestock. It was deserted in the 17th century for unknown reasons. Its main attraction is the St Nicholas church which is believed to have been destroyed during the English Civil War by Parliamentarians and today lies in ruins. Today, only about 50 residents remain in Knaptoft.

Tannersville, New York, US

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The Cold Springs House (American/British Colonial)

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Tannersville is a little town nestled in the Catskills that was founded in 1895 on the lumber and leather industries and gained its name from the many tanneries around it. Tannersville’s economy was also built around its railroad, and when the car became popular in the 1920s, Tannersville lost much of its population. Perhaps its most incredible historical landmark is the Cold Springs House. The old hotel, built in the 1890s, belonged to Leonard Bieber and has over 200 rooms. It ceased opporating as a hotel in the 1960s when it was abandoned. It was a Jewish hotel (in fact, the first Jewish hotel) and kept all its meals kosher and served many Jewish guests, though it is now soon to be demolished, if it isn’t already. Today, about 500 people reside in Tannersville.

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An illustration of the Cold Springs House, date unknown (1930-1945?)

42°11′37″N 74°8′20″W

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Woolgoolga, New South Wales, Australia

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Woolgoolga was founded in the 1870s and is named after the word Weelgoolga, which the indigenous people of the area called the area. However, its original name was ‘Woogoolga’ until it was changed in 1966. Woolgoolga has a large Sikh population that now farms most of the agriculture of Woolgoolga that is bananas and blueberries. Woolgoolga’s main landmark is its large Sikh temple, Guru Nanak Sikh Gurudwara.

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Woolgoolga, 1972

30°07′S 153°12′E

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Hamlet, North Carolina, US

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Plants eat away at the foundations of an abandoned home (Carpenter Gothic)

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An abandoned industrial building near Hamlet’s main street

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Hollowed out stores in Hamlet’s main street

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Storefronts (False Front) at Hamlet’s main street

Hamlet was founded in x when John Shortridge started a saw mill in the area. The name is said to be attributed to Shortridge naming it after the word used for a small, rural neighbourhood in England, ‘hamlet’. Hamlet soon got a railroad and railroad workers began to populate the town. Of Hamlet’s residents was John Coltrane, born there in the 20s. In 1991, a fire broke out at a chicken packaging plant, killing twenty-five people. Another famous resident of Hamlet is Ashton Locklear, part of the women’s gymnastic team at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

34°53′17″N 79°42′22″W