tower-of-david

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'Tower of David' Venezuela: the world's tallest slum in incredible images

Once a five-star hotel and luxury apartment block, the 45-storey so-called “Tower of David” skyscraper that looms over the Venezuelan capital of Caracas is now home to 3,000 people, and thought to be the world’s tallest slum. Intended to be a jewel in the crown of a shining new financial district, the incomplete building was abandoned in around 1994 when its developer died.

By 2007, squatters had seized what had become a huge concrete skeleton. Now, residents regard the “Tower of David” as a safe haven from the violence and turf warfare that blights the capital’s street-level slums. While the first 28 floors were sufficiently completed to be habitable, squatters have had to brick up dangerous open spaces, and put in their own basic plumbing, electrical and water systems.

A co-operative and floor delegates help to manage the tower, and see that communal corridors are kept freshly-polished, and rules and rotas are adhered to.

Text by Kashmira Gander. Photos by Jorge Silva. Source

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In his piece on Venezuela last week,Jon Lee Andersonwrites about the failed city of Caracas by way of the Tower of David, a looming and dilapidated structure that he describes as “a ziggurat of mirrored glass topped by a great vertical shaft, [rising] forty-five stories above the city.” The Tower, which can be seen from almost anywhere in Caracas, is a symbol of the downward spiral that Venezuela has experienced under Hugo Chávez’s rule.

The Spanish photographer Sebastian Liste met Anderson in Caracas to photograph the Tower. Liste described the experience of photographing the world’s tallest slum in what he says is a hostile, unpredictable city: “Nothing compares to the experience of walking up the dark stairs, one by one, haunted by thoughts of what might come next.” In what he calls “a dance between the eyes of the security guards in every corner and the movement of my arm which holds the camera,” Liste captured in stark detail the condition of the Tower’s residents and those of its surrounding neighborhoods, as well as the chavistas who poured into the streets of Caracas in support of their ailing leader.

Click-through for a slideshow: http://nyr.kr/116kMAl

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In Focus: Squatters in Venezuela’s 45-Story ‘Tower of David’

In 1990, construction began on the Centro Financiero Confinanzas, a huge high-rise office complex in Caracas, Venezuela. Construction halted in 1994, after a banking crisis and the death of the building’s main investor, David Brillembourg. The 45-story tower stood vacant until 2007, when squatters began moving in, displaced by a massive housing shortage in Caracas. Authorities turned a blind eye, and the skyscraper, nicknamed the “Tower of David” (after David Brillembourg), is now home to more than 3,000 residents. The third-highest skyscraper in the country has been jury-rigged with electricity and water up to the 22nd floor. Reuters photographer Jorge Silva spent some time with tower residents earlier this year, returning with these photographs of the world’s tallest slum.

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The world’s tallest slum.

Welcome to the world’s tallest slum: poverty-ridden Venezuela’s Tower of David. Squatters took over this very unfinished 45-story skyscraper in the early 1990s, and they’ve been there ever since. The tower was originally intended to be a symbol of Caracas’ bright financial future, complete with a rooftop helipad, but construction stopped because of a banking crisis and the sudden death of the tower’s namesake, David Brillembourg.

Today, as the government is grappling with a citywide housing shortage, the tower is a stark monument to what could have been in the country’s crime-plagued capital. The tower is dogged by accusations of being a hotbed of crime, drugs and corruption. But to residents, many of whom have spent their entire lives there, it’s just home.

Watch as Vocativ climbs the tower and gains the rare in-depth access to residents’ daily lives inside this unique and sinister establishment.

Few cameras have been allowed into the depths of the tower. It is an experience not to be missed.

We answered some frequently asked questions about our Tower of David video here: http://voc.tv/15I8iPE

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30 Days LOTR Day 10; Favorite Man Faramir, son of Denethor 

"Here was one with an air of high nobility such as Aragorn at times revealed, less high perhaps, yet also less incalculable and remote: one of the Kings of Men born into a later time, but touched with the wisdom and sadness of the Eldar Race. He knew now why Beregond spoke his name with love. He was a captain that men would follow, that he would follow, even under the shadow of the black wings."

First look at Rapunzel!

It’s a good thing Disney’s animated-movie division is continuing to crank out fresh hits like Frozen, because ABC’s Once Upon a Time is burning through the studio’s catalog of characters. In March, the drama will introduce Rapunzel — though executive producer Adam Horowitz is quick to point out, “We’re not doingTangled; we’re doing our spin on the character.”

"We went a little darker and freakier," says executive producerEdward Kitsis. “A little more horror story in the vein of [the 2004 movie] The Grudge.”

The long-locked damsel (Alexandra Metz) will be visited in her tower by Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) as well as a mysterious hooded menace. Might it be the Wicked Witch of the West (Rebecca Mader) lurking under that hood? “I can’t tell you,” says Mader. Yeah, yeah, we know. If you did, you’d have to kill us.