Steps that go nowhere, pedestrian walkways that dead-end into elevated bridges, doors that open out into mid-air; these structures are called ‘Thomassons’ and are what happens when workers demolishing or rebuilding an outdated structure leave part of it behind.
The term was coined by a Japanese artist, Akasegawa Genpei, based on Gary Thomasson. Thomasson was an American baseball player who was traded to Tokyo team the Yomiuri Giants, for a massive fee. for a two year contract. As soon as he hit Japanese soil though, he instantaneously became terrible, setting 1981s all-time strikeout record. However, due to being on a 2 year contract, the team had to keep him on.
For Akasegawa, Gary Thomasson was “useless” and also “maintained.”
The lovely thing about this story is not only finding out that a common urban phenomenon has a name, but also that this name has such an evocative genesis: