Kolmanskop, Namibia: Remains of the (hey)day
Next time you're in Las Vegas or Dubai, think of Kolmanskop, just inland from the port of Luderitz.
It was a town built on diamonds: In the early 1900s, word got out that stones were so plentiful in this part of the Namib Desert, they just lay on top of the sand, ready to be scooped up. The DeBeers Company came sniffing, and boom: Diamond rush.
Within just a few years, on this patch of sand stood a theater, a casino, a bowling alley, an ice and soda plant that made daily deliveries to the town's 700 or so elegant homes, and a hospital that boasted the first x-ray machine in the Southern Hemisphere. Sure, you had to call in a squad to clear the sand from your doorway sometimes, but generally, life was very good.
Pretty soon, diamonds became a lot harder to find. Then WWI put something of a damper on the Continent's appetite for gemstones. This patch of land went from dunes to international luxury destination and back again, all in less than four decades.
Today, visiting Kolmanskop makes for a fantastically eerie reminder that history is shaped by greed. And that all rooms are future ruins.