Everyone finds solace and peace in different ways. Some people enjoy complete nothingness, totally shutting off all the senses and just escaping within themselves. Some people enjoy hunting, being at one with nature, and providing for their family the way man has done since the dawn of time.
I don’t prefer either of these. I prefer to be in a city. I prefer to be surrounded by concrete and glass. I prefer to be lost in a large group of people. It’s almost like anonymity by proxy. I can’t explain it, but as long as I have been alive, I have had a lust for the city. There have been many bored nights where I just wander aroud my city. Just me, maybe my camera, exploring new parts of the city that I have never known about.
It never ceases to amaze me that in twenty eight years, I still haven’t discovered all of my city. I know there are parts of my city I have never, and will never see, and that’s alright. There are parts of this town I never wish to see.
However, there are many parts of this city I yearn for, parts that haven’t been touched by human hands for years and years. The underground tunnels are the biggest instance. Underneath Louisville lies a series of (alleged) tunnels built by notorious gangster Al Capone to evade the police. It is well known and documented that Capone as well as other prominent gangsters from the bootlegging era spent time in the Seelbach and had special rooms built for quick escape in the case of police trying to bust up their back room poker games.
ANYWAY. I want to get under the city. I want to explore those tunnels. I don’t care if it’s illegal, I don’t care if it nets me a trespassing charge, I want to get down there and explore. Urban exploration is something I have a huge interest in, but I’ve never had the courage to do. I’m not in any kind of shape to run from the police, I am not a climber, I would be utterly fucked if I got caught, but it’s so thoroughly fascinating to me. Ever since I found out this was a thing, I’ve been completely enthralled with the idea of exploring these abandoned places.
Some noteworthy places I would love to explore are places like Pripyat, in the Ukraine.
I know it’s typical amongst urban explorers. There was a multiplayer map built around Pripyat in Call Of Duty. It was a city, built around a nuclear reactor. They had everything. They had office buildings, apartments, everything conducive to a functioning society, but the coolest part of Pripyat is a ferris wheel. I want so fucking badly to go and climb that ferris wheel. I don’t care if I die, that would be an awesome death.
The second destination on my urban exploration bucket list is Wonderland, in Beijing, China. It began as a Chinese answer to Disneyworld. The park was never completed, and now, out in the middle of a cornfield in China, is this half built amusement park. It was planned to cover one hundred twenty acres, so you know it’s massive, and it’s just sitting there. I mean, it’s surrounded by farmers, and I don’t think officials do much to stop people from going there short of warning signs. It just sits there, rotting from the inside out, waiting for wayward explorers to get inside it’s guts.
I mean, I know it’s nearly impossible for an American to get into China, but a man has to have dreams. My dream is to break into these places and find all the dark, seedy places that I’m not supposed to be. I don’t know where this urge has come from, but I do remember a few memories from when I was a child. My father, who worked in the heart of the city at a printing company, would take us downtown at all hours of the night to pick up orders, or do some last minute work. I always loved the way cities look at night. There are so many interesting people in cities, I think my love for the city comes from imagining all of these people’s stories. Every person has a story, sure, but in the heart of the city, there is a much higher concentration of people and thus, a higher concentration of stories.
If my love for the city started when I was young, this video is what began my complete and total fascination with urban exploration. At twenty seven minutes and change, it’s a bit longer than most videos, but trust me, it’s worth the watch and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be so engrossed you won’t even notice the time go by. Seriously, you’ll appreciate this, I promise.
Trey Ratcliff, Stuck In Customs – http://www.fluidr.com/photos/stuckincustoms