Here are three dying or dead tourist sites:
Graceland, the mansion-museum where Elvis Presley lived for 20 years, is facing financial troubles after the pandemic. The estate has welcomed over 20 million fans since it began its second life as a museum, giving a glimpse into the life of the musical legend. However, post-COVID, revenue has reduced, and it has defaulted on its bonds. It may not be a death sentence for the famous tourist attraction—travel has picked up considerably this year, and the new movie Elvis is generating new interest in the King—but it’s a sign of the times.
If you have been there, it is quite a spectacle, even if you are not the biggest Elvis fan. Nobody else, Sinatra, Beatles, Pavarotti, or Aretha has a shrine like this. People visit from all over the world. It would be a shame to lose this unique slice of Americana. Graceland was in financial trouble soon after Elvis died. Hopefully, for Elvis fans around the world, the pandemic stays under control. One of the most unique places I have ever visited, along with Ceausescu. Dostoyevsky, and MLK’s boyhood home.
Jumbo Kingdom was an iconic floating restaurant that had served Cantonese specialties since it opened in 1976. The three-level ship was designed as an imperial palace, and it welcomed royalty like Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip and a host of celebrities, including Tom Cruise. It was a big financial strain to maintain this restaurant after the pandemic, and without private investors or a government bailout, it couldn’t be saved.
In June, after being closed since 2020, it was towed away from the harbor with locals bidding adieu to the eatery in the city’s waters. Sadly, a few days later, the ship sank in the South China Sea on the way to a shipyard.
Yet another cultural and culinary icon bites the dust. In fact, it sank when they tried to move it. Mr. Mike and I took a harbor cruise over to Jumbo, but decided to eat elsewhere, upon the recommendation of our boat owner/guide.
The Cliff House was first built in 1863 after the Gold Rush. In its 157 years of history, it was destroyed by fires twice—in 1894 and 1907, though it survived the 1906 earthquake. With incredible views of the Pacific Coast, this clifftop restaurant went through changes over the years and became a fixture in the hearts of locals. From a place for the wealthy to a local gem and tourist attraction, it has lived many lives, and maybe another chapter is possible in a few years.
Why did it shut shop? Proprietors Dan and Mary Hountalas said in a statement on the website that they have run operations for 47-and-a-half years, but they haven’t been able to negotiate a contract with the National Parks Service since 2018. The pandemic was the last straw, and they had to say goodbye.
My first visit here was for breakfast with my Aunt and Uncle. I guess we all thought it would last forever. Mostly, we loved the pinball machines. I guess nothing is forever, but death and taxes?