Urbex Debate #1: The Responses No One Asked For

What do you think of making entry to a place?

I would never do it. There’s really no question about that, both from a practical point of view, and legally. First off, it’s a whole other level of charges in New York if you break and enter. It takes the legal liability up from a ticket (that usually requires the property owner to be there to press charges) to a misdemeanor and the risk of being arrested at the spot.

Then just practically, even if the legal risk wasn’t so much greater, I’d rather not be carrying tools around everywhere, it wouldn’t be like leaving them in the trunk of my car to have when needed, since I don’t even have a car, and it would be expensive getting new ones every time when I couldn’t even bring them home on an airplane.

I usually won’t even attempt a place unless it’s extremely well known or I can see a recent entrance on Youtube between the question of having to make an entrance, and the fact that I’m also one of the worst climbers in the urbex community and I’d really prefer to avoid disappointing whoever I managed to find to explore with me.

Another problem is I almost never go anywhere to explore for more than a day to not be too much of a burden on whoever I’m going with. So making an entrance at night and coming back the next day isn’t an option, and I have no idea usually when, or even if, I’d ever have someone to go back to that same city with in the future. It’s even worse in my own area since I’m the only explorer in my city so to get out at all locally I’m forced to depend on people visiting, and I’m not about to waste their time on a place that’s only a maybe.

Does it mean I’m missing the best spots? Totally. But as long as I still get to see the easiest ones I’m happy.

That being said, if I did hypothetically make an entrance somewhere, the least I would do is make sure it can be found so other explorers can benefit from it. The worst thing is places in other states where literally the front door could be open and I have no idea if people are picking a lock or climbing into a third floor window or just walking in because no one is willing to share the entrance.

When is a place abandoned?

In my opinion, once it’s not being used and it’s already been determined that it won’t be used for its original purpose again. Its future doesn’t necessarily have to be demolition, but its future has to be unrecognizable as anything like its past.

Sometimes that can be almost immediately after a place closes, if it ends up condemned, or it closed due to a fire, or it’s a type of location that’s fundamentally on its way out (a dead mall for example, or a school whose replacement has already opened). Other times, like with a church, it could take many years to pass through that intermediate status until it’s really getting trashed.

Of course it’s different underground, drains and caves are liminal space to begin with that never really have anyone in them, so even a brand new drain is fair game for me.

One test that isn’t 100% accurate but probably sums it up pretty well is, if someone put some graffiti dicks inside the spot, would anyone but explorers care? If the answer is no, let’s explore it!

What about “fresh bandos?”

No thanks. If it looks like it could be a real estate listing, especially for a house, why even bother?

The only fresh locations I’d really care about are industrial sites that still have the machinery left inside.

Is there elitism in urbex?

Of course there is. And you’re looking at it all the wrong ways.

Why should others have to put the work in? We’re a community here, and we should be a whole lot more collaborative about this, especially for trashed spots or ones that won’t be around much longer anyway. I understand why fresh spots deserve to be protected, but even then this has gone much too far. We shouldn’t be glorifying making other people redo the work everyone else has already done.

If there was no elitism in urbex, we would all be Bill Finan.

No. If there was no elitism in urbex, I would be one of you. Without elitism, there wouldn’t be so much incentive to leave people like me out, because my attitude would have no reason to exist. I wouldn’t be on the bottom, because there would BE no bottom.

Experience doesn’t matter. I’ve been exploring for 16 years and all I’ve gotten is old, while I’m watching people in their first and second years explore circles around me and have no problem at all finding people to go with.

What I would like to see isn’t everyone sharing every location with everyone. That should never be a thing. Some places should be kept secret. BUT NOT ALL PLACES! What I’d like to have happen is for there to be a national starter guide map with easy but still worthwhile spots, and local people able to keep it up to date, and a way for more experienced people to meet up with new ones and try to perpetuate the community that way. I’d be happy to fly around the country taking people on their first explore and getting to see new places that way, I’m willing to trust anyone at least twice.

What about setting up a gofundme when things go wrong?

I know if anything bad ever happened to me, if I ever got the Jersey special or fell into a hole and broke my back, more people than not would be celebrating. I’d never even think of doing a gofundme because I wouldn’t get any support.

Unless I felt like it was someone who actually would support me if I were in their situation, no, I wouldn’t donate. Although looking at the list of those who do can be helpful to figure out who to avoid.

What do you do to keep people from finding your locations?

You people are literally the worst. Waiting until a place is gone to post the location just helps the rest of us find new and different ways to get disappointed. Post early, post often, and at a very minimum, at least give the city and state. I know I’m not a perfect example when I’ve got a 9 month backlog on instagram and going on 8 years (ugh) on my blog. But that’s ONLY because I’m lazy and not anything about the locations, and usually I go to the kind of low level shitty spots that are still viable a year later so my info still tends to be useful.

And don’t be a fucking idiot and give away how easy it is to keep people from sharing spots in the comments. My main method of research is following small youtubers, I’m subscribed to about 800 of them in the northeast and midwest with anywhere from 5 to a few thousand followers. Between giving the location straight up in the video, showing enough details to find it, or helpful people in the comment section, it’s THE BEST source out there for low level urbex research.

Please don’t listen to these people. Don’t put up block words or blur out details in the videos or anything crazy like that. Think of them as easter eggs, clues to give to people who are willing to look for the smallest details in the video and find the place, it’s a puzzle for the viewer. And the commenters are just people sharing places they care about, usually they aren’t even explorers and don’t know the “rules”. If they want to give us a treat, cheers to them!

Finally, don’t lie about what places are, or make up fake histories, or put them in fake cities or states, or use codenames. That’s just being an asshole. Don’t go out of your way to make it harder for the rest of us!

How about instagram hashtags in the bando?

I’m constantly looking for people to explore with. I’ll add anyone I see who writes their name on an abandoned chalkboard, just in case I found a willing explorer in a city I’m interested in going back to. Usually they’re old tags, not even valid anymore, or they’re just high school kids, but every once in a while I find someone worth being friends with.

Also, that’s what the Discord cards are for. Yes I’m distributing them, but there’s also 24 others of us in the server who do, and we’ve had approximately 45000 cards printed so far, with another 20000 coming at the end of our current photo contest. The cards won’t be stopped, and I’m hoping they’re a sign of a new era in the exploring community.

Maybe we should go back and do this again?

If you do, can you please bring me on the panel next time? And/or have me participate before/during it in written form like this again? I’m just about out of people to explore with and need all the help I can get for summer 2023!

Leave a Reply