The board seems a little sleepy this Monday, so I thought I might do something unusual and create a topic.
Ever heard of urban exploration? Basically it involves getting into or on parts of the city that are abandoned or otherwise closed to the public. It rings a chord with adventurous folk, particularly those who don't mind (or enjoy) the risks of getting caught trespassing, or climbing around in places that aren't exactly prepped for safe public use.
A lot of folks that do this are amateur photographers, so there are a bunch of really cool images to be found if you do some googling about urban exploration. One site in particular had some amazing skyline photos, but I haven't been able to track it down as of the time of posting. I'll see if I can dig it up again.
A few sites:
Working in architecture, it's come up once in a while, but it was always pretty fringe. A lot of arch students and interns do stuff like this...they've got the combination of interest in designed spaces and reckless excitement. The movement seems to be gaining steam lately; I know that Discovery Channel and its like have been debuting a lot of urban exploration-themed shows of late, where they check out old prisons, hospitals, etc. I suppose that those "Ghost Hunter" shows are tangentially related, too.
They seem to do a lot of crawling around in drains, which isn't super interesting. But there's also a lot who sneak into new construction sites, particularly for skyscrapers. The buildings typically have night security which the exploring folk have to dodge. I wonder if those security personnel often lose their jobs when the explorers inevitably post photos of their excursion online? I also wonder how often these people get killed falling from buildings, or into pitfalls underground.
Back in undergrad, security personnel were always chasing students out of the old Bethlehem Steel factory. We took a tour of it in class...it's a creepy old hyper-industrial complex, mostly rusted over. The most interesting thing to me was a big turbine room that had partially caved into its foundation below. I hopped off the tour and climbed down a disused concrete stair that was just floating in the middle of the rubble. It led to what basically looked like the Batcave from Batman Begins...there was a big cavern, and big sewer pipes were pouring water into an underground stream that ran below the building. It was pretty surreal.*
*On a side note: the locker rooms were really creepy. Space was a premium, so instead of lockers, the workers all had individual perforated metal baskets that could be lowered to and from the ceiling on pulleys. But the baskets all had these giant meat hooks that were supposed to be used for hanging clothes and jewelry from. The baskets and hooks were just floating at all these different heights when we entered...it looked like a scene out of Saw. Very creepy.
So, ever explored a building or structure that you weren't supposed to be in? Are you morally opposed to it, or think that urban explorers ought to grow up a bit?
Myself, I do believe that it's wrong to trespass as they do. But I'm still glad that there are folks out there who're willing to do this, so I can see the awesome photographs. I think I'd be down for some of it, but I'd have to weigh the risks versus the potential benefits quite a bit. I'm not super claustrophobic, so I think I'd be totally fine exploring drains and the like, but heights do get my heart racing quite a bit (which is ironic, because in my line of work, I often have to use suspended scaffolds).
Edited, May 21st 2012 2:48pm by Eske