Urban Exploring takes danger to new level

Ryan D’Souza | Staff Writer
Jonathan McCollough | Staff Writer

Places that were once visited by thousands are now being explored by a few.

Urban exploring is the exploration of man made-structures that are typically abandoned. This includes locations like old houses and deserted amusement parks and subway systems. The hobby is especially popular among photographers and documentary filmmakers.

Junior Yogesh Patel began urban exploring to expand his photography skills. Patel said his passion for photography is what drives him to go to abandoned places.

“What really motivated me to go out there and start looking at stuff and going to places that people don’t usually go is it’s always the best place to get the perfect shot,” Patel said. “When you go to places that have that history, that culture, that context behind it, it’s usually the place to get the best photos.”

Junior Lexy Nelson said that urban exploring is a way for her to escape the stress of everyday life.

“It’s to get away from everything,” Nelson said. “People go through their own (trials) and I go to take pictures of things that can connect to stuff that happens to me in my life. It’s like an escape from what’s happening.”

Patel said that there are many risks that go along with urban exploring, especially in old buildings that he with which he is not familiar.

“Sometimes the foundation isn’t stable,” Patel said. “Sometimes there’s stuff in the air that you can’t breathe in. Sometimes there’s just dangerous stuff laying around like sharp metal sheets and (things) you can trip over. It’s dark in the places we go because the electricity is shut off so you can’t see anything. ”

Patel said that another danger of urban exploring is the location of the places that they go.

“In buildings like the Crosley building, the location is in Clifton,” Patel said. “Abandoned buildings usually aren’t located in the friendliest places. They’re located in places that are not that densely populated and people don’t go there, so it’s an unsafe area to be in because there could be people looking to harm you or there could be people doing stuff that isn’t legal.”

Nelson carries mace when she goes to abandoned places to protect her in case anything dangerous happens. She said it takes a certain person to be willing to go out and explore abandoned places.

“It definitely takes someone who is willing to risk a few things and get out of your comfort zone,” Nelson said. “Especially me being a girl, I’m more putting myself out there because you never know who’s going to be there. (At the abandoned amusement park) we went in and we were just walking around looking at everything and taking pictures. Then some huge guy comes up and I always carry mace around me so I had my hand on my mace because I didn’t know who they were, what they were going to do, what they wanted.”

Due to the uncertainty of what they will encounter, Patel said that he must be prepared before exploring an abandoned place.

“I usually pack a knife, a window breaker, flashlights, gloves, bandages and a medical kit,” Patel said. “We also wear protective clothing and cover all parts of our body so we don’t get tetanus from the rust or anything we touch in there. We usually get one person to go in first to check out the entire area, which is usually me. So I go in and check out the area, see if the foundation is safe, and then we go in.”

Patel says that while he has to be careful of the many risks involved with urban exploring, the thrill of danger is a big part of the fun.

“There are a bunch of surprises thrown your way but the fun part is the danger,” Patel said. “You get your blood pumping and your heart racing. That’s the whole point of the adventure, you do something that’s out of your boundaries or out of your box and once you step out, you keep wanting to do it because it’s really fun to have that experience.”

Nelson said that the uniqueness of urban exploring, as well as the history of the places they go, makes it worth doing.

“I would definitely say it’s worth it,” Nelson said. “Not only because it’s a lot of stress relief but it’s going and doing something that is out of the ordinary. People usually go to take pictures with flowers or colorful houses, but I like broken windows and dirty walls. It’s really cool to see how the building used to be, all put together and clean, and now what has happened to them, the destruction and how it wears off. It’s something different.”