Have You Ever Seen A Ghost Town?

“Do you remember the good old days before the ghost town(s)?”

Aden Schulze-Miller, Editor in Chief

The tumultuous year that was 2020 has finally been put to rest, and while things aren’t set to up and bend immediately to the will of our New Year’s resolutions, we’ve got a lot to look forward to in the way of progress with a fresh start (and importantly, a vaccine to help put this virus down). 


Due to the quarantine process that most Americans and much of the world’s population had to suffer through, I suppose more accurately the ‘quarantine that we’re still suffering through’, even the most procedurally unchained of us have had to adapt to changes in day to day life. 


Society has had to change too, and it’s in that where the meat of this article lies; the civilized world has momentarily had to shift gear, from ‘drive’, then to ‘park’ and now it’s kinda running on ‘neutral’. For the most part, things are back to normal albeit only with extreme precautions.


Some remnants from that ‘park’ timeframe, the one where our entire country and what seemed to be half the world was shut down for a good month or two – well they still remain with us to this day, buzzing about alongside the virus (neither of which seem to be on the down slope per se). 


As the title suggests, I’ve been thinking a lot about the ‘ghost towns’ that have fabricated in the place of once great and bustling cities and suburbs. 


Phoenix, Tempe, Los Angeles, Minneapolis (after the ubiquitous fire-parties) etc. are some examples of cities that succumbed to the ghostiness of the 2020-2021 Quarantine; Phoenix, particularly much of downtown, is the only one I have visceral experience with and thus it’s the only city listed that I can truly write on. 


I took a small day trip to downtown Phoenix about a month ago; this was a great opportunity for me to check out the Downtown Arizona State University Campus, especially the Walter Cronkite Building. 


Getting out of the car with my friend, I got a good chance to walk around a bit, try out some vegan food at the single open café, and check out my future dorm buildings and local scenery. There was just one thing, though: there was practically no one there. 


There were a few crossing guards, an occasional pedestrian, one insanely gorgeous Med-School student who’s AirPod I had to try to save from a gutter; besides that there didn’t seem to be anyone about. 


It was eerily quiet, too quiet, like that scene in Shrek (2001) where the title character and his companion arrive at the antagonist’s city and it’s absolutely barren. 


There were a lot of homeless people, as well as a few individuals who were mentally ill to the point where they wandered aimlessly away from all of the other dejected city dwellers, screaming and flailing as they did so. 


It’s a sobering sight; paired with the sounds of almost nothing, it truly felt like a ghost town. I was previously used to the bustling and vibrant nature of downtown, but at least since I last visited it was pretty scary. 


Seeing all of the shops closed down too, and the dreary distant sounds of muffled traffic further into the city, it was all quite a bit to handle. I’d visited the abandoned parts of Jerome, but this felt a lot more real.


So, that’s my question: Have you ever seen a ghost town? If downtown Phoenix, at least by the Cronkite building is how it last was when I was down, then you’ve got a good chance to go see one in person. 


There are a few takeaways from this; I think we need to offer more support towards our homeless population, and we should also familiarize ourselves with what it’s like to live in such a desolate environment (at least for the sake of the experience.) We should also wear masks and prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in order to never have our beautiful, bustling cities reduced to this state ever again.