What is it?
Urban Exploration, sometimes shortened to urbex or UE is the exploration of man-made structures, usually abandoned ruins. This can be private homes, factories, hospitals or even drains and underground tunnel systems. It’s a hobby that can be incredibly dangerous, many have lost their lives inside unstable structures, or dealt with the long-term effects from the exposure to asbestos, chemicals, and mold. There are also the risks of trespassing in some cases, and at a long stretch have to deal with arrest due to anti-terrorism laws. So why do people pick up the hobby of urban exploring?
Obviously, I cannot speak for anyone but myself about the reasons why anyone would be willing to take the risks. I know that there is a certain thrill at being someplace you shouldn’t be, but that is not why I explore. I explore for the history, the legacy of the buildings or area. In a society where new is always better, and money is the rule, the past can get pushed aside. Historic buildings are being torn down and replaced by shopping malls and parking lots. They are left to sit and rot due to red tape. They are burned to the ground by pyromaniacs, robbed of copper by thieves. Little bits of history are lost each day, and that is where I come in. I want to document the past, I want to be able to show my children those beautiful historic buildings, the interesting architecture of the past. I want to know not just the big stuff, but also the little insignificant details. I want to know who lived in those abandoned farmhouses. I want to know why they left all their belongings, why they left the shoes, and photos behind. More than likely I wont ever find those sort of answers, but regardless those little bits of history, those minor details, are a calling for me. Maybe, hopefully one of my pictures will spark a childhood memory for someone, remind them of places visited or lived, that’s what I want to document because that is everyone’s history.
How do I find these places? Research, Google maps, Flickr, UE websites, just driving around. There are numerous ways to find these hidden gems, I’m not going to make a tutorial about it. Nor will I ever give out the real names of these locations, it is a form of protection, if you look hard and long enough you can find them. If you’re going to explore do so carefully. Good shoes, long pants, a respirator is handy, and someone to watch your back.
Next Week we are getting away from urban exploring and play with some Glitter.