Archive for September, 2011

Three Teenagers Attempt 6 A.M. Ascent Of Williamsburg Bridge

September 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Two girls, ages 16 and 17, and a 16-year-old boy were nabbed by police for climbing the Williamsburg Bridge at around 6 a.m. this morning. A rep from the NYPD tells us that the teens were “climbing high up on the beams and hanging over ledges.” In all fairness, it’s probably the coolest place in town to play spin the bottle.

The teenagers were issues summonses for misdemeanor reckless endangerment and criminal trespass, whereas the professional acrobats that performed a stunt on the bridge last month are facing felony charges. Many an “urban explorer” has been lured by the quest for glory atop the Williamsburg Bridge, and this Undercity video of Steve Duncan reaching the top of one of its towers is pretty damn inspiring. Is the city wasting a golden opportunity for al fresco dining in an urban chic location?

Original article

Categories: Urban Exploration

Europe – Night Climb Stunts Back in City Centre

September 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Fears were raised today that someone could be injured or killed climbing tall buildings in Preston after evidence emerged the daredevil practice is still going on.

The Evening Post revealed last month how climbers scaled more than 200ft up the huge Centenary Mill chimney and took pictures of themselves at the top.

The Holiday Inn was also scaled by “urban explorers” earlier this year.

And despite condemnation from city leaders, the practice is continuing, with pictures from the top of the derelict Odeon building, in Church Street, the latest to appear on a website dedicated to the activity.

Coun Drew Gale, councillor for the town centre ward on Preston Council, said: “It is only going to stop when someone gets hurt.

“I would implore them to think twice before going up these buildings without the right safety equipment.

“It is illegal frankly and eventually someone is going to get hurt.

“They are literally taking their lives in their hands.

“It is just not worth a picture.”

The explorers generally wait until the dead of night to avoid attracting the attention of the police, building security and CCTV, and appear to have take few safety measures before making their ascent.

However, some of the Odeon shots appear to have been taken during the day.

Talking about the pictures, a forum user, identified only as ‘BB’, said: “Not a massive roof compared to some but it certainly offers some nice views of Preston.

“Visited several times with different people.”

The same user was behind a climb to the top of the Holiday Inn, overlooking Ringway, in March this year.

And a further set of pictures, including one of an explorer standing on the chimney on top of the building, were posted last month by a user called Crippletron.

When the images of the climb at Centenary Mill were brought to the attention of authorities, Insp Eddie Newton, of Preston Police, said: “We are concerned that the people involved in these activities are putting themselves in grave and unnecessary danger.

“We urge them to think about the long term consequences for themselves and their families.”

The now derelict cinema was renamed the Odeon in 1962.

In 1970 the old restaurant was converted to a second screen.

The ballroom became a disco, initially called Clouds ,and later a nightclub Tokyo Jo’s and currently Lava Ignite.

Original article

Categories: Europe, Urban Exploration

Europe – Keeping Watch on Danger Site

September 7, 2011 Leave a comment

A DERELICT school on a ‘death trap’ site is being monitored ahead of a possible demolition order being slapped on the building.

Wyre Council is considering placing an enforcement notice on the Emmanuel Christian School at the former Fylde Farm site.

The building, which following a blaze was deemed ‘dangerous’ by the fire service, has been glamorised by Urban Explorer website – an underground group who gain access to prominent urban locations.

But a recent inspection carried out by building control officers showed the structure to still be within safety boundaries.

However, Wyre say it is monitoring the situation every day with a view to place an enforcement notice on the building in the future.

A spokesman said: “It is a possibility we will be seeking an order on the school but there has been no enforcement action yet.

“From the outside the building is still within safety boundaries.

“But the council would prefer all the buildings on the site to be demolished and have expressed that information onto the current owners, the North West Young People’s Development Trust.”

The site, off Normoss Road, Poulton is expected to be sold in the next few weeks. J R Demolition have so far knocked down seven buildings on the site including Westmoreland House and the Fylde school cottages, once used as staff housing.

JR Demolition owner Glynn Watkins said: “We have been told to expect an order on the school. We would love to pull the entire site down, it’s a mess and so dangerous.”

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Categories: Europe, Urban Exploration

‘Urban Explorers’ Quest to Discover Abandoned Haunts That Conjure Hidden Past

September 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Fueled by Internet forums and photo-sharing, so-called “urban explorers” track down decaying houses and boarded-up factories to capture the way things were in an ever more remote past.

For them, it’s like going fishing or catching a movie on a Sunday afternoon. This escape, though, takes them to explore the cities and the countryside in search of abandoned locations to enter: closed-down factories, abandoned hospitals, empty houses.

They snap pictures, which they often post online, and helps explain how the practice has multiplied over the past few years through forums and social networks. They’ve been dubbed “urban explorers,” even though they often run through country fields in search of new boarded-up finds.

To discover new treasures out in the territory, these archeologists-photographers follow the news, search municipal archives, talk with the elderly or just look around closely. Then they exchange tips. They mainly find factories and workshops, but they can also come upon hotels, theaters, zoos, prisons, asylums, museums under construction, sewerage systems — and sometimes entire towns.

“The most moving part is the discovery of a new place,” says Sylvain Margaine, project manager for Brussels public transportation services. “I’d dreamed of visiting the former veterinary school of Brussels for a very long time, but it was impenetrable. Until the day renovation work started.”

Margaine recalls: “I jumped into the building through a basement window and I ended up in a pitch-dark small room. When I turned on my flashlight, I saw the shelves full of animals in formalin jars. I was certainly the first person to come back there since the building had been closed, it was fascinating.”

Gregory Michel, a 30-year-old from Alsace employed in Basel, notes that the weekend explorers are, in fact, rarely the first ones to come. “Almost every time, someone already came before us, copper thieves or squatters.”

Adventure, discovery, history, cultural heritage — the motives of these explorers are numerous. “I like the idea of going where no one goes. Each building has its own soul, it bears marks that can tell you stories. I observe and I let my imagination work,” explains Henk van Rensbergen, a 43-year-old Flemish airline pilot.

Van Rensbergen is considered a pioneer of the discipline, having taken advantage of each of his work stopovers to look for new places, often recommended by other enthusiasts he met on the Internet. “The best places are obviously the rich countries, where they have enough space to leave an old building fallen in ruins, and build other ones next to it.”

The United States, Canada, France, Italy, Germany make up his Top Five. And each region has its peculiarities, memories of bygone days. Mines and steel factories in northeastern Europe, huge lunatic asylums in North America that show the number of inmates and the mistreatment they suffered. In Switzerland, explorations take place in the underground network of Basel, old hotels or Ticinese sanatoriums

Some do extensive research before they go to a new place, others do it afterwards, a few don’t do any outside reading at all. “Thanks to the objects that are still there and the anecdotes we read or heard, we manage to imagine the building when it was inhabited, to perceive the activity that was going on inside at the time,” says Gregory Michel.

Inheritance problems

“Sometimes the paintings are still on the walls and the crockery inside the cupboards, as if the people had left overnight. I think it’s moving, I wonder what happened, and I start doing some research,” says Sylvain Margaine. “It’s often the same story: inheritance problems.”

Julien Michaud, a computer analyst from the French city of Strasbourg, discovered one of these long abandoned houses. “Everything was still there, the piano, the letters, the darkroom where the grandfather, who was a photographer, developed his pictures…The granddaughter left with the inheritance. People say the family owns another house in the South. I’ve been looking for it in vain…”

As usual, Michaud published his photos of the house on the Web, though he did not give the address. But illegal visits started multiplying, objects disappeared, graffiti has covered the walls, and now the piano is being dismantled. “Now I got it, I keep some places for myself,” he says with regret. “I shared a lot in the beginning to enter the circle, to prove my mettle. I don’t do it anymore.” Many urban explorers wait for the building to be destroyed to talk about it publicly.

There is in fact a certain ethical code amongst the veterans: never break in, never leave any trace of your visit, take nothing but pictures. “The places must be protected like fragile pieces of nature,” specifies the website The doors are never broken open, the windows are never smashed – maybe there’s a hole or a basement window, or you’ll need a ladder or rope, but there is always a soft way in.

To enter discreetly and also to limit the risks, the equipment is an important element. Visitors – mainly men – need at least a good pair of shoes, gloves, two electric torches, food and water. Depending on the circumstances, they can also bring waders, a knife, a helmet or even a gas mask.

Taking precautions is even more important as urban exploration is victim of its own success. A documentary on the French Channel France 2 in early July led to a real saturation of the forums. The pleasure of the discovery then becomes more and more rare. “The challenge now resides in the pictures you take, I try to capture the atmosphere of the premises, to take better photos than the ones I saw on the Web,” says Henk van Rensbergen. “I started taking pictures to prove to my friends that I had been there and to show them how it was. Now my approach is more aesthetical.” A mix, it seems, of Indiana Jones and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Original article

Categories: Urban Exploration

Europe – Urban Explorers Warned off Vauxhall Site in Ellesmere Port

September 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Vauxhall have taken to the internet to urge people not to put themselves in danger by exploring their treatment plant in Ellesmere Port.

The car giant signed up to an online forum for urban explorers – people who spend their spare time wandering around industrial sites and taking photographs – after photographs were posted of people on the site.

Vauxhall are now warning them against further trespassing.

Huge pipes at the Vauxhall Effluent Trade Treatment Plant, situated behind the Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port, carry storm water from the site and into the Manchester Ship Canal.

All production waste waters are first treated and then discharged to the Municipal Treatment Plant for further treatment prior to ultimate discharge.

The forum member, appearing to speak for Vaxhall, wrote: “Whilst Vauxhall welcomes inquiries from concerned citizens regarding our operations, we do not encourage anyone to put themselves in danger by entering hazardous confined sewer spaces and deep ravines.

“As these are structures designed to handle storm water, they are subject to flash flooding.”

One urban explorer responded to the statment, arguing that the lack of security on the site made it easy pickings for people.

‘Georgie’ wrote: “If you’re that bothered about this place why is it left wide open for anyone to gain access?

“I’m sure we’re not the only ones to have been down there.

“There’s a sign saying ‘warning risk of drowning’ but no effort put in place to stop anyone from going in so from an explorers point of view its quite inviting.”

Original article

Europe – Lincoln Cathedral Bosses Warn Against Copying ‘Urban Explorers’

September 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Photos of gargoyles looming out of the darkness, the interior of Lincoln Cathedral at night and panoramic views of the city have been posted online.

They were taken by so-called urban explorers who seemingly scaled a 100ft wall to reach the roof of the cathedral.

The series of 26 images show dawn views of Lincoln, shadowy passageways and close-ups of St Hugh of Avalon, all taken by mysterious invaders calling themselves “Horus”.

One photo captioned on – a forum for so-called urban explorers – showing a gargoyle says: “What nightmares are made of.” While another showing a dragon calls it “a personal favourite”.

On the blog it is claimed the pictures were taken in August after an episode of Top Gear featured the historic building.

The exploration was dedicated to a fellow urban explorer and professional climber Jim Smith, 30, known as Soloman. He died in August last year.

The blog speaks with reverence about the cathedral, calling it one of the “finest medieval buildings in Europe”.

It said: “The gothic West Front resembled a fortress – one with scaffolding gracing its exterior. An opportunity to climb Lincoln Cathedral presented itself and Horus was in.

“With a break in traffic, we climbed past the CCTV adorning the hoardings and ventured upwards out of sight.

“Atop of a cathedral almost 1,000 years old, it’s only natural to check the façade for a way in. At the top of the south-west turret with the statue of St Hugh above us, a small door was held shut by a single piece of rope.

“Heading down the turret’s spiral staircase in darkness, we were inside the cathedral and it was eerily quiet. With the door to the nave locked, Horus caught some sleep and three hours later, we headed out to be met with dawn breaking over Lincoln.”

Bosses at the historic building have warned others against attempting the same thing.

Chief executive at the cathedral, Phil Hamlyn Williams, said: “Entry to the cathedral was most likely effected through the intruders climbing the south-west turret scaffolding before it was complete. This was very dangerous and the scaffolding has since been secured.

“We have taken steps to prevent further entry into the building, but no damage was reported.

“Lincoln Cathedral is one of the greatest Gothic buildings in Europe and has held a place in the hearts of the people of Lincolnshire for almost 1,000 years.

“Visitors can enjoy the views shown in the photographs by joining roof tours that are available daily within the normal entry charge.

“We have also placed the panoramic view from St Hugh at the foot of the scaffold, where it too can be enjoyed in safety.”

City MP Karl McCartney said: “While I can understand the excitement and thrill of accessing such private buildings, I am also aware of the damage they might cause both in accessing and climbing on private property, as well as personal damage to themselves.”

Original article

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