A skyscraper slum has emerged in Venezuela as close to 3,000 people have descended on a 45-story unfinished tower, turning it into their home and functioning mini-city.
The building was planned for the heart of the city’s capital of Caracas, and is complete with a helicopter launching pad and giant balconies on what was planned to be luxury apartments. The building, called the “Tower of David,” was once intended to be a financial center for the nation but instead remained empty after the 1994 death of developer David Brillembourg.
In 2007, squatters began to take over the building’s concrete skeleton, and after the Venezuelan government turned a blind eye thousands more moved in, creating a skyscraper slum.
But what could have become an eyesore is instead turning into an example of cooperation. The people living there have erected their own set of rules, halls and living spaces are kept neatly painted and swept, and there is even a mini-government of floor delegates who punish rule breakers with extra “social work.”
Inside the skyscraper slum, residents have erected their own mini-city. There are shops, a dentist, and even a beauty salon within its walls
Those living in the skyscraper slum have put in their own plumbing and electricity, and families pay a $32 monthly fee that funds 24-hour security patrols.
Though the skyscraper was originally taken over by armed gangsters who once threw murdered rivals from windows, today the Tower of David is seen as a haven. For residents, living in the skyscraper is much preferable to the dangerous slums within the city.
“There is far more order and far less crime in here than out there,” resident Thais Ruiz told Reuters.
But the skyscraper slum is not without its own dangers. Though residents have used brick to seal off dangerous areas, accidents have still happened. A young girl fell through a hole in the wall and died a few years ago, and kidnappers have sometimes brought victims to the building.