Everything About Urban Exploration...

What is urban exploration?

Urban exploration. It goes by many names such as UE, UrbEx, Infiltration, and Reality Hacking. It is all about going into places you are “not supposed" to go. Urban exploration has 2 different meanings for me:

The first one is related to the city we live in. We are enclosed, almost entrapped, in this urban environment. We follow the streets guided by the paths that are drawn, no chance to escape our average everyday existence. Urban exploration is the research, documentation, escape, exploration, and mapping of these forbidden spaces that include maintenance or service areas, utility tunnels, abandoned buildings, such as mental institutions, and basically any place where the everyday public are not supposed to be. Open a door, cross a fence, or sneak into a hole and you visit the world of Urban Exploration. You have left the normal world, you are exploring.

The second meaning is related to the abandoned places or utility tunnels themselves. Sometimes these hulking structures lay rotting in the middle of the city and sometimes they are in the quiet suburbs abandoned and waiting in silence. These are places isolated from the “normal” world, places most people will never venture into or see. This what drives you to these forbidden places and changes everything in your reality with your first step forward. With that step you are in, you are exploring.

A much broader definition, written down by Ninjalicious, spiritual "father" of urban exploration, can be found on www.infiltration.org (the zine about places you're not supposed to go). See also Access All Areas: A User's Guide to the Art of Urban Exploration , a book written by the same author.

Paris catacombs infiltraiton
Paris catacombs, May 2001
Paris catacombs infiltraiton
Hospital Le Valdor: such an easy entry point...

 

How to do urban exploration?

- No breaking and entering. This does not mean that every urban exploration trip is legal, but we never break anything to enter a site, locks included.

We try to sneak in without any damage, much like a stealthy ninja.

We also ask permission to visit places via their owners as often as possible and we are usually accommodated and allowed to enter.

- Respect the places you visit. No tags, no vandalism, no senseless destruction, no theft. Do not forget that people will visit the place after you do, so let them experience it just as you did! We always try to leave the place untouched and use the motto: "take only pictures, leave only footprints..."

Paris catacombs infiltraiton
A 1881-plate completely tagged and scratched - Paris catacombs Feb.2005.

- Safety: urban exploration can be a very dangerous hobby. Whether you are climbing a crane, walking on a rotten and fragile floor, or wandering near barrels of toxic waste the risks are everywhere. Good knowledge of the environment you are in is absolutely necessary and specialized equipment adapted to the conditions is often required, such as: helmets, climbing gear, respirator, gloves, lights, ..ect.  We strongly recommend not practicing urban exploration unless you are trained by a professional.

Further Reading

- Tchorski
- Ejectable
- Silent UK
- Lost Ground
- Les mirroirs de l'ombre
- Tomboy Urbex
- 28 days later
- Opuszczone
- Foantje
- Focale Alternative
- Souterrains & industries
- Sleepycity
- Derelicta
- Neqo
- Opacity
- Residues
- Hours of Darkness
- Schwarze Katze
- Still Alive





There are 4 comments
SGM85
February 23, 2014 - 09:45
I kinda beg to differ, but also agree...

So, I'm not sure any of the people who previously commented will see this, but I have a thought on the matter of vandalism... Absolutely, it is horrible to see damage done to an abandoned structure in the likes of copper and scrap theft, tagging, reckless damages, and so on. However, in terms of entry, I believe, as a true explorer one must consider certain means of gaining access to a structure worthy enough to enter. For example, there is a location (I will choose not to disclose) in which some friends and I explored for three consecutive days until finally we were compromised by security, which I might add, were very friendly and understanding of our adventures. We found only one entry to the building on the first day but as each day progressed, we deemed it necessary to find other means of exit since the building was tens of thousands of square feet, making it a very extensive exploration, hence three days of exploring. This took place about 7 years ago (2007ish)... I was JUST there today with some friends who were interested in exploring and we have come to find the building underwent some pretty extensive upgrades to seal all entries, which you can imagine, was a bummer. Well, unexpectedly we were compromised AGAIN and on this new group's FIRST day of checking the place out! Come to find out, the previous group I was with was the last known dispatch to security regarding trespassing before they tightened the place up and we were the first group SINCE. Now, understandably the security officer today was pretty stern about the fact that the place was off limits, but AS SOON AS I TOLD HIM I HAD EXPLORED THE PLACE YEARS AGO AND KNOW WHAT ITS LIKE INSIDE THIS MASSIVE BUILDING, his eyes lit up like a 5 year old at the ice cream truck and went on and on about how he's wondered what that would be like... The security guard respected us and our child like dream to get back in. Here's my point... I think it is worthy to share these places, even if it means working on a door to open because the fascination lies within EVERYONE as to what mysteries and artifacts one might discover in a place like this. When the security guard is sitting with you after he just caught you trespassing, trying to think about how he could legally get you in? I say do what you gotta do... Do I think its stupid? In many cases, absolutely... Would I deserve what's coming to me shall I get arrested and fined? Only real men and women take responsibility for their actions... Is it worth it? Damn straight! Just like its worth it to someone who "infiltrates" an OPEN facility that is RUNNING and has CURRENT EMPLOYEES! Just as ridiculous, right? Sure! But there's something to be said about the passion it takes to even go into a place YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE... Think about it... We aren't even supposed to be there, but even the security guard wishes he were me...

william – pensacola
October 15, 2012 - 17:49
-

i randomly found and got into urban exploration and i agree with you. why do people have to go destroy the places others may love to see i for one love to find the hidden and unknown so please people leave it as you found it

wardy
December 14, 2011 - 13:34
PEOPLE THINK IT IS COOL TO TAG!! IT"S NOT!!

I agree!! BUT now people just want to see what they can destroy!!!!!! NOT WHAT THESE PLACES ONCE WERE!!! What ever happened to JUST TAKE PICS AND LEAVE FOOTPRINTS?? I still go by it!! It is so sad to see places so old get messed up so quick!!! IT KINDA SHOWS ME THAT MOST OF THESE BAD PLACES JUST GOT WORSE OUTSIDE THE WALLS..

Brooklyn Explorers – Brooklyn, NY
March 29, 2011 - 01:45
Its all about education

The term "Urban Explorer" brings such a bad connotation these days. Trouble some teens and disrespectful people just looking for a place without rules and consequences have damaged not only history but the ability for someone else to see the beauty in the discarded. Thank you for posting this message up. A true explorer only documents. They do not damage.