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Who needs to explore caves and jungles when you can enjoy some urban exploration! Explore abandoned buildings, subway tunnels and more and see what you might find thanks to all the great stuff in this community.
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Urban exploration - A Risky Pastime
They see themselves as explorers or adventurers or sportsmen, while others could see them as trespassers or vandals. They’re people who practice urban exploration (abandoned buildings, sewer systems, train tunnels, etc.)
Urban exploration isn't something that most are familiar with. I mean, when we think of exploarion, we usually envision trekking through jungles or over mountains a la Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark!
Urban exploration, sometimes called urbex or UE, examines normally off-limits parts of cities or factories. UE also is referred to as “infiltration,” although some practitioners consider infiltration to refer more to exploration of inhabited or active sites. Other names for the practice are “urban spelunking,” “urban caving, “building hacking” (like computer hacking) or “draining,” when exploring human-sized drainage pipes.
Physical danger and law-breaking are part of the urbex experience. Many, although not all, of urban exploration could be considered trespassing or some other legal violation. Authorities attribute the increased popularity of urban exploration to its increase media attention from recent television shows such as "Urban Explorers" on the Discovery Channel, MTV's Fear, and the ghost hunting exploits of The Atlantic Paranormal Society. Longtime practitioners of urban exploration now discuss whether the increased attention has been beneficial to their hobby.
Subsets of urban exploration that its practitioners attempt include:
Abandonments: Abandoned sites are generally among the first ventures by urban explorers. Closed or abandoned buildings often exhibit grafitti or vandalism, while the explorers themselves must deal with such hazards are guard dogs, broken glass, chemical or other toxic spills, even collapsing floors and roofs. Some explorers wear respirators and other gear more typical of cave exploration when entering abandoned buildings.
More popular abandonments include amusement parks, factories, missile silos, grain elevators, schools, hospitals and asylums.
Active buildings: Exploring active or “in-use” buildings often means penetrating secured or areas restricted to members or employees, such as mechanical rooms, roofs, elevator rooms or other unseen parts of a building. This is the type of exploration termed “infiltration” by some explorers. People who enter these kinds of areas may be trespassing and could face prosecution if caught.
Catacombs: Underground areas such as those found in Paris, Rome and Naples have been investigated by urban explorers. The Mines of Paris, comprising much of the underground tunnels that are not open to public tourism like the catacombs, have been considered the "Holy Grail" by some due to their extensive nature and history. Explorers of these are known as cataphiles or Splooshers.
Storm drains: Another common form of urbex is entering storm drains, termed “draining.” This practice has a special set of guides, the foremost of which is, in essence, “no drains when it rains.
Transit tunnels: Another UE subset explores active and abandoned subway and underground railroad tunnels. Again this type of activity is often considered trespassing and can result in prosecution. Most transit tunnel explorers live in or near London, New York City, Moscow, Toronto and Sydney, or any other major city with an underground transportation system.
Utility tunnels: Large institutions such as hospitals, universities and the like often distribute steam for heating and sterilization through utility tunnels. These tunnels, often accessed only for maintenance, are another favorite site of urban explorers, especially students on college campuses. However, since these tunnels now carry computer network backbones, they’re considered a terrorism risk and are much more tightly controlled.
So all in all, this is one pastime may be filled with excitement but should be enjoyed at your own risk since this fun time could easily lead to prison time!