Abandoned Caracas skyscraper is home to 2,500 squatters

In downtown Caracas, thousands have found home in an unlikely structure. The “Tower of David,” a one time symbol for Venezuela‘s economic growth prospects, is an unfinished 45 story skyscraper filled with idle Venezuelans and enterprising small business start-ups. According to the New York Times, a housing shortage in Caracas has led many to make the most out of the housing opportunity provided by this massive abandoned structure.

A relic of the Venezuelan banking boom, the slum-scraper is one of the tallest buildings in Latin America and houses roughly 2500 squatters. The tenants have wired electricity, created makeshift shops, and installed DirecTV satellite dishes that cling precariously to the exterior of the re-purposed tower. Many residents have set up businesses, including a PlayStation home-brew arcade, a beauty salon, and a suspicious sounding dentistry operation.

The DIY housing solution is currently inhabited up to the 28th floor, though residents plan to push higher towards the incongruous Helipad that rests atop the tower. This video by the New York Times provides a candid glimpse into life within the dilapidated tower.