What is Urban Exploration?

At the far left of the graphic, you have the tame end. I've labelled it the "curious" group. In here you find the photography student who snags pictures of cool architecture, or the business man who likes to take a stroll downtown on his lunch hour. Would those people call themselves urban explorers? Probably not. But as you may know from personal experience, it all starts here, with us being simple admirers of our surroundings. Are those fellows exposed to any risks? Virtually none, except if they try to take pictures of construction sites (ask Tux). Nobody can get "caught" looking around in a safe, public place.

As we move right, we encounter a higher degree both of preparation and of danger. If we take our businessman of a moment ago, give him a slight boost in inquisitive nature and a digital camera, we'll get what I call "the beginner." He's not likely to take a day off just to go investigate a decrepit factory, but then again he'll probably do a double-take when he sees a facade with boarded-up windows or a door that's been left conspicuously open. He'll also get those "exploring urges" the more serious explorers get all the time, but will still resist them. After all, there's a Do Not Enter sign, right? It's there for a reason. (If you just snickered after reading the last sentence, you're probably an urban explorer already. Congratulations!)

Now here's the tricky part. On the graphic, the thick white bar in the middle marks the spot where a person actually recognizes that he or she is involved in a truly unique and different hobby, and might even call him or herself an urban explorer. At that point - which is highly subjective and may vary from individual to individual - urban exploring becomes an activity in its own right, not just "looking at cool buildings on the way to work." Although the actual words will surely differ (my first personal attempt at describing my newfound pasttime was "roofing," because, er, we liked to climb to the roofs of duplexes and triplexes!) the spirit is the same: an awe at the discovery that there is so much lying out there, waiting for you.

Next page

Last page


Back to UEM