Tower of David, the World’s Tallest Slum

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The Tower of David is an abandoned unfinished skyscraper in the center of Caracas, the capital city of Venezuela, that is now home to more than 3,000 squatters, who have turned the 45-story skyscraper into the world’s tallest slum.

Construction of the building, originally called “Centro Financiero Confinanzas” and nicknamed the “Tower of David”, after its developer, David Brillembourg, was started in 1990 and was to become a symbol of Caracas’ bright financial future. It is the third highest skyscraper in the country. But a banking crisis brought those plans to an abrupt halt in 1994. The government took control over the building and construction was never completed. The building has no elevators, no installed electricity or running water, no balcony railing and windows and even walls in many places.

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In 2007, a group of squatters took over the building, and it quickly gained notoriety as a hotbed of crime and drugs. Despite this, residents have managed to build a comfortable and self sustaining community complete with basic utility services such as electricity and water that reaches all the way up to the 22nd floor. Lifts being absent, residents can use motorcycles to travel up and down the first 10 floors, but must use the stairs for the remaining levels.  Inside the building’s long hallways there are warehouses, clothing stores, beauty parlours, a dentist and day-care centers. Some residents even have cars, parked inside of the building's parking garage. Some seven hundred families comprising over 3,000 residents live in the tower today.

Residents claim that “Tower of David” is far more safer than anywhere else in Caracas. Many inside the Tower of David relocated from other, far more dangerous slums around the city like the violent Petare of east Caracas.

There is a co-operative and floor delegates that help to manage the tower, and see that communal corridors are kept freshly-polished, and rules and rotas are adhered to. The residents pay $32 a month “condominium” fee to pay for the tower’s 24-hour security patrols.

Also see: Kowloon Walled City, a Population Density Nightmare

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Source: Reuters / IBITimes / Wikipedia

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