23 November 2013

Urban Explorers aka trespassers

I recently tweeted and posted a link to a photographer who goes into abandoned buildings and takes pictures. A couple years ago I also saw a reality TV show on a team of guys who would do these guerrilla break in of places in order to take pictures of abandoned buildings. It sort of fascinates me and brings out the sneaky Scooby-doo feelings. (Loved that show as a kid.)

Once near where I lived an entire neighborhood was condemned. In a rather ominous bureaucratic move, the city decided they needed more commercial zoning and since they were landlocked the way to get it was to condemn a 40 year old neighborhood of small houses. Probably small voices as well. I don't know if the compensation was fair at all, I do know everyone wasn't happy.

Of course, it was prime real estate right along the freeway. One poor disgruntled soul spray painted a protest on the side of his house for everyone on the highway to see as they drove by. In time they were all given a date to get out and a fence was put around the entire four block square. Then it proceeded to sit there untouched for months.

I don't know what came over me but one blustery autumn day my significant other and I decided to explore the now abandoned neighborhood. The main entry street had a bar across it that was locked to keep cars out, but if you were walking there was no impediment to just ducking under the bar. So we did.

This is one of the most bizarre experiences I've had as an adult and it has really stuck with me. I have often described it to people and probably mentioned it in blogs before.

Because no one else was moving in or because they were mad, people had left random things they didn't want in their homes. Also all the doors stood open so in this entire neighborhood you could just randomly wander into the homes.

People had garage sales and just left the things that didn't sell standing on the trestle tables in the drive or garage. I actually picked up a couple little dishes that I still have and use on occasion. Souvenirs of sort.

Clothes were left in closets like someone was coming back. As we walked we managed to get onto creepy stories and in one house freaked ourselves out hearing strange noises. I think in a way it was better than any haunted house experience because it was very mental and real. As I'm prone to do, my imagination ran away with me and I thought someone could be roaming around inside this little neighborhood for weeks hiding, living off food left in cabinets, changing clothes. What if they came on us? What if they were a fugitive? We are in here where no one could hear us if we yelled.

It was a very satisfying, nosy, creepy, adventure and no one the wiser. It didn't occur to me until I read this article (The photos) and looked at his photos that we could have been arrested. The photographer has been arrested a lot for trespassing. I'd like to think we'd have gotten away with a warning and a "get out of here you kids" like Scooby-do and the gang.

We made another memorable trespass adventure now that I think of it, we probably also could have been arrested for too -- but we were young and carefree and enjoyed a good adrenaline kick from being spooked.

It was Halloween in Dover, England. We'd taken the ferry over for the weekend and had no car. We were staying in a little b & b. It was of course cool and rainy, but the b & b was basic to say the least and sitting indoors could get old. So we went out hiking after dinner in the dark and found ourselves exploring all around the grounds of Dover Castle. It was lit up for a nice view from afar, but we stayed to the shadows and poked all around, even tried a few doors I think but didn't get inside the walls. It was great fun and creepy. One of those accidental events that is a memory that sticks with you.

I remember as a kid making up stories and taking turns freaking each other out about the house on the corner that seemed to have no one in it. There's just something fascinating about an empty or abandoned place. The question always lurks - is it really abandoned?

So have you explored any odd urban sites or trespassed? Any you'd like to visit?

1 comment:

  1. I wish I had trespassed somewhere like where the houses had all been abandoned. I think I'd be a bit scared of potential vagrants, so I definitely think it sounds like a group activity.