Imagine waking up in a dystopian world where all trees are plastic, where all streets are buried in piles of trash, where pollution is so bad you can’t see the sky, and where rivers have turned into concrete.

Well, in fact, this is already happening in some places around the world, according to the eye-opening subreddit named Urban Hell. Its 689k members share “all the hideous places human beings built or inhabit,” according to the group’s description and you can see these are not pretty.

Scroll through the real-life examples of urban hell below that reveal the dark side of modern development that often remains invisible. Psst! More urban hell examples can be found in our previous post right here.

#1

A Boy Gathers Recyclable Items From A Semi-Dry Drain, At Taimoor Nagar In New Delhi

A Boy Gathers Recyclable Items From A Semi-Dry Drain, At Taimoor Nagar In New Delhi

ParaMike46 Report

Tamra Stiffler
Community Member
2 months ago

Oh my god.

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#2

Magnitogorsk, One Of The Worst Polluted Cities In Russia. Only 28% Of The Children Born In The Town Are Fully Healthy

Magnitogorsk, One Of The Worst Polluted Cities In Russia. Only 28% Of The Children Born In The Town Are Fully Healthy

Travel_legend Report

Hans
Community Member
2 months ago

This isn't even urban...just hell.

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#3

Inequality In Tembisa, South Africa

Inequality In Tembisa, South Africa

PTRMT Report

Jennifer Briscese
Community Member
2 months ago

Powerful photo

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To find out more about urban living and the downsides of it, Bored Panda reached out to Lisa Yaszek, a Regents Professor of Science Fiction Studies at Georgia Tech, where she researches and teaches science fiction as a global language crossing centuries, continents, and cultures.

“The traditional advantage of urban life is that cities are engines of technoscientific development and cultural exchange, and that is true now more than ever, as we see new megacities of 10 million or more people springing up around the world,” Lisa explained.

According to the professor, since the development of large industrial cities in the 1800s, the downsides of urban living have become increasingly evident. “Cities organized around factories and power plants tend to be environmental disasters, with clouds of pollution sometimes literally blotting out the sun and preventing the growth of anything green on the ground.”

#4

Ah Yes, Trees

Ah Yes, Trees

MAAAS399 Report

Spinz
Community Member
2 months ago

They look like something...else, at first

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#5

San Francisco, USA

San Francisco, USA

Sayl0 Report

Hans
Community Member
2 months ago

How a country with the self-understanding of being the world's leader would let this happen is beyond comprehension.

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#6

Norilsk, Russia

Norilsk, Russia

carlelov Report

Nelson Ricardo
Community Member
2 months ago

No happiness

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Another downside is that “industrial and postindustrial cities also tend to attract disproportionate numbers of both highly skilled workers (often in finance or business) and unskilled laborers (often in factories or domestic work). As such, they make evident the very real and increasing gap between the rich and the poor.”

“Finally, cities tend to be surrounded by suburbs with single-family homes that, in theory, offer a better balance between nature and technology. In practice, however, suburbs have their own problems: their emphasis on visual uniformity is often part of a larger tendency toward cultural segregation, and the need to drive everywhere—including in and out of the city—only adds to our current environmental problems,” Lisa explained.

#7

A Photo Of Central Park During The Great Depression (New York, 1933)

A Photo Of Central Park During The Great Depression (New York, 1933)

Double_Usual3271 Report

SentimentAndBadJokes
Community Member
2 months ago

Such a shocking transformation to what is is now.

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#8

Town Square In Bartoszyce (Poland) Before And After

Town Square In Bartoszyce (Poland) Before And After

slopeclimber Report

Toni
Community Member
2 months ago

why?????

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#9

Residential Building In Hong Kong, Shot By Me On 35mm Film

Residential Building In Hong Kong, Shot By Me On 35mm Film

dredogue Report

KJ
Community Member
2 months ago

How grim does that look, I will remain out in the countryside.

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When asked whether we can go backward and undo the harm that historic urban development practices have done to the physical world around us, Lisa said that she doesn’t think it’s possible. “But I do believe we can go forward in new ways,” she added.

“In particular, we can learn from our mistakes and rehabilitate the spaces we’ve already created, rather than simply abandoning or bulldozing over them. We can do this by either inventing new or recovering old technoscientific practices that better respect the coincidence between nature and culture and by practicing a different kind of urban design that springs from the lived reality of city-dwellers, rather than the abstract theorizing of planners and developers who often live in spaces far removed from the cities they design.”

#10

Burj Al Babas, Turkey (The Largest Ghost Town In The World)

Burj Al Babas, Turkey (The Largest Ghost Town In The World)

8_Hoot Report

KJ
Community Member
2 months ago (edited)

"where do you live", "Im in the white house with a turret".

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#11

Disgusting Canal Near My Home In Manila. I Wish People Just Would Bother To Care How Our Environment Is Dying Fast

Disgusting Canal Near My Home In Manila. I Wish People Just Would Bother To Care How Our Environment Is Dying Fast

AgentFive005 Report

Caro Caro
Community Member
2 months ago

I can nearly smell it, eeeew

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#12

Ferentari, The Poorest Area Of Bucharest, Romania - Most Apartments Are Squatted And Have No Electricity, Hard To Believe This Is In The European Union

Ferentari, The Poorest Area Of Bucharest, Romania - Most Apartments Are Squatted And Have No Electricity, Hard To Believe This Is In The European Union

biwook Report

Bobert Robertson
Community Member
2 months ago

Romania, as a whole, is a beautiful country, but this is sad

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Lisa explained that if this sounds like utopian science fiction, that’s because it is. “Before Lang riveted the world with his image of the city as a gray, vertical dystopia that destroys nature and literally increases the gulf between rich and poor, stories by women of color including Bengali author Rokheya Hossain’s 'Sultana’s Dream' (1905) and American writer Pauline Hopkins’s Of One Blood (1902) presented readers with an alternative to urban hell: the 'garden megacity' that runs on solar power and where the equality of all people, regardless of race or gender, is made literal through horizontal urban design.”

The professor continued: “In the 1970s, American author and New York City dweller Samuel R. Delany’s Triton and Dhalgren rebutted the narrative of 'white flight' from permanently ruined cities by celebrating the excitement he saw in the women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ people around him moving into cities and making them their own. This led Delany to imagine what he called 'heterotopian' urban spaces where people use technology and art to create so many new identities and communities that it becomes impossible for one group to economically or politically dominate another.”

#13

The Flag Of Urban Hell

The Flag Of Urban Hell

thefridgeinthegarage Report

KJ
Community Member
2 months ago

That must have taken some effort to get the trolley up there in the first place.

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#14

Las Vegas

Las Vegas

Zealousideal_Ad4636 Report

Caro Caro
Community Member
2 months ago

They all look the same, imagine trying to find your house...

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#15

Macau

Macau

FishMonkeyCow Report

Ivo H
Community Member
2 months ago

I'm affraid that having this kind of appartment will soon be considered lucky.

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“More recently, works including Caribbean-Canadian author Nalo Hopkinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring (1998); Nigerian digital artist Olelekan Jeyifous’s 'Shanty Megastructures' (2015) and 'Frozen Zone' (2021), and American filmmaker Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther (2018) have created what I call a 'nutopian' tradition of speculative storytelling celebrating how indigenous peoples around the world draw and weave together their own diverse knowledge systems with Western ones to begin the long but literally fruitful process of reclaiming urban spaces and creating better futures for all,” the professor explains.

#16

Huntington Beach, California, During The Oil Boom Of 1928

Huntington Beach, California, During The Oil Boom Of 1928

RareGentleman Report

Brian Bennett
Community Member
2 months ago

Don't particularly like seeing oil platforms in our Oceans either!

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#17

Not Sure If This Fits The Sub, Gallons And Gallons Of Water Wasted Just To Keep Lush Green Golf Fields In The Middle Of The Desert

Not Sure If This Fits The Sub, Gallons And Gallons Of Water Wasted Just To Keep Lush Green Golf Fields In The Middle Of The Desert

runy05 Report

yeciye
Community Member
2 months ago

At least they got sand traps for free.

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#18

This Beautiful View From My NYC Apartment

This Beautiful View From My NYC Apartment

SlenderFinger Report

ElenaK
Community Member
2 months ago

And how much does it cost? 2500 per month?

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The reason why Lisa has hope—”and the reason that all these authors have such beautiful future visions of the reclaimed city—is because real people are trying to build such futures for us now, in the real world!”

“For example, here in the U.S., urban farmers Will Allen and Emmanuel Pratt have won MacArthur 'genius' grants for their innovative use of both indigenous and Western farming practices to replace urban food deserts with locally owned food oases, while members of the Black Quantum Futurism Collective hold events to collect and share Black history and urban knowledge.”

#19

16th Century Mill Surrounded By Brand New Concrete In Seaside Bulgaria

16th Century Mill Surrounded By Brand New Concrete In Seaside Bulgaria

proBICEPS Report

Spinz
Community Member
2 months ago

Never thought I would feel bad for a mill, but here we are

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#20

Guangzhou Aerial

Guangzhou Aerial

tanmaypendse63 Report

SentimentAndBadJokes
Community Member
2 months ago

Kinda cool photo though.

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#21

"Lying Skyscraper" In Moscow. About 736m Long

"Lying Skyscraper" In Moscow. About 736m Long

wicnfuai Report

Manndy Fisher
Community Member
2 months ago

Ah yeah.. the Soviet Union architecture..

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See Also on Bored Panda

According to Lisa, the conversion of old rail tracks into green beltlines through cities like New York and Atlanta indicates things are taking a turn for the better. “It shows real attention to the way that people actually live in and use their cities, as well as the possibility that we can bring together nature and infrastructure in ways that benefit the many rather than just the few.”

Interestingly, this isn’t just happening in the U.S. “In Kisumu City, Kenya, the Food Liaison Advisory Group is working to reconnect the city with the larger region to ensure supplies of healthy food and give rural farmers access to wider markets, while urban dwellers in India can use the 'Clean India' app to track and help resolve sanitation issues in their own and other nearby cities,” Lisa explained and added that she can’t wait to see what kinds of new and hopefully more utopian science fictional cities these actions inspire.

#22

Intersection Of Two Avenues In Sao Paulo, Brazil

Intersection Of Two Avenues In Sao Paulo, Brazil

RAEL_ATK Report

Robert T
Community Member
2 months ago

And all because they couldn't follow the basic rules of a box junction - in the UK it is illegal to enter a box junction unless it is clear on the other side and you can be fined if you stop on the yellow hatchings - precisely to stop this kind of problem.

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#23

"Vertical Slum" Luanda Angola

"Vertical Slum" Luanda Angola

reddit.com Report

ggus44
Community Member
2 months ago

Those balconies look safe, huh?

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#24

Margate, United Kingdom

Margate, United Kingdom

stereoworld Report

Manndy Fisher
Community Member
2 months ago

Dreamland indeed

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In the not-so-distant past, urbanization was understood as this ideal mode of modern living, the one which seemed to be very efficient, orderly, and adaptable to individual needs. Most importantly, it aimed at catering to a rapidly soaring population that found itself lacking in space, infrastructure, and opportunities in suburban areas. Our economies have become more industrialized over the past few hundred years, which made people move to cities.

The United Nations (2018) predicted that by the year 2050, 68% of the global human population would live in urban areas, constantly growing in surface. And today, we no longer talk about cities, there’s a new term for cities much bigger than a 10-million population and it’s called a “megacity.” Tokyo is an example of a megacity with nearly 40 million residents.

#25

Children Playing Basketball Near The John E. Amos Coal-Fired Power Plant In Poca, West Virginia

Children Playing Basketball Near The John E. Amos Coal-Fired Power Plant In Poca, West Virginia

ParaMike46 Report

Beth L
Community Member
2 months ago

Most of what you're seeing there is steam from the cooling towers

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#26

Distance Between Two Apartments, Guangzhou

Distance Between Two Apartments, Guangzhou

tanmaypendse63 Report

Ivo H
Community Member
2 months ago

This is most claustrophobic and depressing photo taken outside I've ever seen.

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#27

Inequality In Mumbai, India

Inequality In Mumbai, India

tanmaypendse63 Report

Atir Reyam
Community Member
2 months ago

Sadly, I have never seen a movie or a photo that has inspired me to want to visit India.

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#28

A Graveyard In Hong Kong

A Graveyard In Hong Kong

Porodicnostablo Report

Andrew Gibb
Community Member
2 months ago

It is in the dead centre of town. People are dying to visit it....🥁🥁🥁

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#29

Bliska Wola Tower, Warsaw, Poland. Sunlight Rarely Reaches The Bottom Floors, And Some Apartments Are As Small As 18 M²

Bliska Wola Tower, Warsaw, Poland. Sunlight Rarely Reaches The Bottom Floors, And Some Apartments Are As Small As 18 M²

gaymeteorologistlol Report

Debbie Barnes
Community Member
2 months ago

You really wouldn't want to live on the ground floor, would you..

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#30

Only Surviving Photo Of A Hoarder House Demolished Around 2007 In Nagoya, Japan

Only Surviving Photo Of A Hoarder House Demolished Around 2007 In Nagoya, Japan

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Inga Paškevičiūtė
Community Member
2 months ago

Man, the hoarder played tetris a lot as a kid

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#31

Preschool In Newark, NJ, 1994

Preschool In Newark, NJ, 1994

FromLuxorToEphesus Report

Hans
Community Member
2 months ago

If you need barbed wire around a school and metal detectors to get it, you should realize it is time for change.

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#32

Copy Paste

Copy Paste

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James016
Community Member
2 months ago

The town from Edward Scissorhands

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#33

Wuhan, China

Wuhan, China

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SentimentAndBadJokes
Community Member
2 months ago

Totally ghost town... wonder what happened.

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#34

Abidjan, Ivory Coast

Abidjan, Ivory Coast

gustaver19 Report

Ciara Stone
Community Member
2 months ago

Yeah I did, in fact, just went a bit existential and philosophical over this. Bite me. To the photographer seriously enter photography contests

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#35

My Dorm At The University Of South Carolina (1998), Since Demolished

My Dorm At The University Of South Carolina (1998), Since Demolished

tuna-from-a-stranger Report

I I
Community Member
2 months ago

yikes , looks like my depression if it where a building

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#36

Paris, France. A Studio In The Building Between The Boulevard And The Train Rails Highways Starts At 800€/Months. If You Qualify!

Paris, France. A Studio In The Building Between The Boulevard And The Train Rails Highways Starts At 800€/Months. If You Qualify!

NormPa Report

I I
Community Member
2 months ago

the noise would drive me insane

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#37

Amazon’s New Fulfillment Center In Tijuana, Mexico

Amazon’s New Fulfillment Center In Tijuana, Mexico

Azrael612 Report

Spinz
Community Member
2 months ago

As "convenient" as it is, I really dislike Amazon.

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#38

Beautiful Pittsburgh Architecture

Beautiful Pittsburgh Architecture

MidgetManglr Report

Linus Nilsson
Community Member
2 months ago

"Watch the first step, it's quite high"

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#39

A Famous Bank In Pau, France

A Famous Bank In Pau, France

Adrien296 Report

F. H.
Community Member
2 months ago

That's a great work of brutalist architecture.

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#40

Fencemageddon 2 - The Panelling! Pretty Standard View Of English / Irish Estates

Fencemageddon 2 - The Panelling! Pretty Standard View Of English / Irish Estates

ParaMike46 Report

Manndy Fisher
Community Member
2 months ago

I don't see anything wrong with that. This is clearly new estate looking at state of roofing and colour of wood in fences so it's temporarily plain. When people will move in I guarantee there will be bushes and other plants in the gardens. Why fencing you ask? Idk, I personally like my privacy and wouldn't like neighbours to wander around my garden and their dogs sh*t on the grass scaring my kids.

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Note: this post originally had 66 images. It’s been shortened to the top 40 images based on user votes.