In the face of development, some steadfast souls refuse to budge.

Narita Airport Farms, Tokyo
Narita Airport Farms, Tokyo - The farmers who continue to grow vegetables on the site of Narita Airport first had to fight for their land in the 1960s, when the Japanese government announced it would build there, and would be buying out around 1,200 farmers to do so. While some sold quickly, many resisted—and a protest movement was born when leftist students took on the cause. The result, according to the Japan Times, was “some of the most violent protests in the history of Japanese activism.” Six people died in the clashes between protestors and the police in the 1970s, and the opening of the airport was delayed until 1978—and even then, it only had one runway, versus the five originally planned. 

The fate of the late Edith Macefield's Seattle house—sandwiched in the middle of a shopping mall—is uncertain. (David Ryder/Reuters)

Everyone loves an underdog story—and real estate holdouts, such as Edith Macefield’s house in Seattle, are revered examples. Macefield was an elderly resident who refused to sell to developers who wanted to build a shopping mall where her home stood; they ended up constructing the mall around three sides of the house.

Meanwhile, China’s construction boom has given rise to “nail houses,” homes that remain in the middle of construction sites, roads, and new housing developments after their owners rebuff government efforts to remove them.  

Macefield died in 2008, and it’s unclear what will become of her home. In China, nail house owners often ultimately vacate, particularly because authorities have the power to cut off their electricity and water.

But some holdouts seem to hang on.