17 American Attractions That Used to Attract Millions But Are Now Facing Extinction

Environmental issues, lack of interest, and changing urban spaces are all contributing to the decline of some of America’s most loved attractions. Here are 17 places that are facing extinction, threatening the tourism market across the country.

Alcatraz Island

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The infamous prison island is facing erosion and saltwater damage, which is threatening the structure of its historic buildings. In need of significant conservation efforts, the island is also seeing fluctuations in visitor numbers, raising concerns that not enough young people are learning about its historical significance.

Route 66

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The iconic Route 66 represented the American dream, but according to The Guardian, only 85% of the route still exists today due to the redevelopment of the highway system. “Businesses shut, towns suffered from loss of tourism, and parts of the route were abandoned altogether. By 1985, Route 66 was decommissioned and officially ceased to exist.”

The Mississippi Delta Blues Trail

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Economic hardships in Mississippi are threatening the preservation efforts of the Delta Blues Trail. The birthplace of the blues is also facing challenges in attracting tourists, which enables them to maintain historic sites and promote its musical history.

New Orleans’ French Quarter

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While the area is still popular with tourists, local preservationists are concerned about how they can maintain the quarter’s historic character amid modern societal pressures. On top of this, the city’s battle with rising water levels and flooding may threaten the infrastructure of the quarter.

The Mojave Desert

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According to the Wilderness Society, “the Mojave Desert Mountains and their native plants and animals are threatened by poorly sited energy projects, mining, and uncontrolled off-road vehicle use.” This, on top of climate change, is threatening the desert’s unique ecosystem.

Mount Rushmore

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Symbolic of American history, Mount Rushmore is facing issues due to erosion and environmental degradation. There are also concerns about the cultural sensitivity of the site, so preservationists are taking steps to address maintenance while respecting the site’s complex heritage.

Niagara Falls

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Urban development and environmental concerns are threatening the natural beauty and stability of Niagara Falls. While tourism is an essential source of income for the area, experts are attempting to find a balance between this and the environmental conservation of the falls.

The Oregon Trail

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Crucial to American westward expansion, the Oregon Trail is rich in history but is now facing threats from development and natural erosion. Conservationists are working to preserve the trail’s landmarks and educate the public about its significance to help keep its story alive for future generations.

Salton Sea

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With shrinking water levels, California’s Salton Sea is facing an ecological collapse. The New York Times says, “It’s been shrinking for decades, killing off fish species that attract migratory birds and exposing lake bed that generates dust that is harmful to human health. As the sea has receded, it’s also left abandoned houses, shuttered resorts, and landlocked marinas.”

The Redwood Forests of California

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Facing threats from logging, climate change, and disease, the iconic ancient redwood trees are in danger of being destroyed. Preserving these forests needs to be balanced with the needs of local communities and economies, so there is a focus on sustainable tourism.

The Grand Canyon

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According to the National Park Service, the Grand Canyon is facing threats from human activity. These include the introduction of non-native plant and animal species, air pollution from nearby metropolitan areas, and water pollution from livestock and human waste.

Yellowstone National Park

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America’s first national park is facing challenges from increased tourism, wildlife management issues, and climate change. While tourism is key to the area’s economy and to funding conservation efforts, this has to be balanced with protecting the park and its wildlife.

The Liberty Bell

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An iconic symbol of American independence in Philadelphia, the Liberty Bell is facing a decrease in visitor engagement and historical relevance in today’s culture. Preservation of the bell and its pavilion is essential to maintaining its structure, and this needs to be managed alongside education for younger generations.

Florida Everglades

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A mix of human activity and climate change is threatening the Everglades’ ecosystem, leading to habitat loss and endangered species. The EPA says, “Phosphorus in agricultural and stormwater runoff has degraded water quality in the Everglades since the 1960s. The natural plant and animal communities for which the Everglades are known developed under very low phosphorus conditions.”

The Space Needle

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Seattle’s iconic Space Needle has faced challenges in maintaining its status as a must-visit attraction due to the city’s rapid development and changing tourism. Recent renovations have aimed to enhance the visitor experience, but there are struggles around ensuring a sustained interest in the landmark.

Hearst Castle

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Located in California, Hearst Castle was once the lavish residence of William Randolph Hearst, but it now faces challenges in preservation and maintaining visitor interest. Costly to maintain, the castle requires constant work to preserve its historic structures and art collections.

The Freedom Trail in Boston

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A path that connects historic sites from the American Revolution, the Freedom Trail is facing challenges due to urban development and changing visitor interests. The modern urban environment of the city makes it difficult to maintain the integrity of the trail’s historic sites, and innovation is crucial to educate and engage visitors.

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