“Go West Young Man” (but it’s not the “west” you’re thinking of…)
When I first saw images of high-rise buildings with thousands of miles of roads in the middle of what looked like an arid desert in nowheresville China, it felt like eerie – even creepy – as I wondered why China would build huge cities that have no residents. No people lived there. That was in 2012 when urban planners of China’s Communist party decided to expand urbanization far in the western part of their nation. They called the Lanzhou New Area.
To build this metropolis, they leveled hundreds of mountains (the greatest mountain-moving project on earth) in an area infamous for contaminated air, water, and soil – hmm, what could possibly go wrong?
The plan was to bring one million people to live, work, and prosper in a free-trade zone. They built replicas of the Great Sphinx, the Parthenon, and even the Great Wall to lure tourists and would-be residents. They even put in an artificial lake. This kind of reminds me of Las Vegas (building high-energy consumption resorts in the middle of the desert). The Chinese government claims that the Lanzhou New Area will be able to house 3.4 billion people. Unfortunately, people aren’t flocking there, and these cities are now called “Ghost Cities.” A few people – mostly those who were forced to leave the villages that were wiped out when they developed the area – have moved into some of the buildings, but they complain that they don’t have jobs.
My guess is that the Lanzhou New Area will become a bustling economic center in the future because of the rising population and choking pollution in the major cities in China (including the Lanzhou "Old Area" 40 miles south). I wonder when people will make the move, and will they need to rebuild the infrastructure after buildings have been vacant for long periods of time? Check out this article for pictures of this "ghost city".