Urban Exploration

Dark alleys, abandoned buildings, sewers, mysterious (otherwise creepy), run-down places, flashlights, cameras, and intrigued explorers – these are just bits of the Urban Exploration “movement” throughout the world.  Urban explorers enter areas that are supposedly off-limits in order to just what their name implies: explore, generally with a camera in hand.

Many websites provide forums for explorers to discuss their adventures, ask questions about locations, provide tips, share photographs, and have general conversations. Some share blueprints of steam tunnels under universities and other detail directions. These sharers are generally anonymous, but happy to do so.  It kind of sounds like trespassing, huh? And isn’t it rather dangerous? Well, yes to both. And sites acknowledge this, stating that it’s an at-your-own-risk type of thing. Still, there are safety tips and lists of what to bring on these explorations.

Trespassing and associated risks aside, the urban explorers aren’t doing any harm. In fact, they could very well be the only people to document these forgotten structures and places. From what I have read, these urban explorers are there to investigate and document, not destroy and vandalize.  It is curiosity and nothing more. Shouldn’t someone be recording these ignored and neglected parts of the built environment?

What do you think? Urban Explorers aren’t the typical preservationists, but are their hearts in the right place? Or would something like this have a negative effect? After all, preservation is more than documentation, so this isn’t really the same thing.  So how does this fall in relation to preservation?  Perhaps it’s the last ditch effort on the part of others while preservationists are dealing with subjects of “significance”? Think about it.

If anything, it’s endlessly entertaining to look at photographs of these abandoned places. Check out: Opacity and Lost America.

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Thanks to Lauren McMillan for sharing this topic.

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