Urban Exploration – Urban exploration (often shortened as urbex or UE) is the exploration of man-made structures, usually abandoned ruins or not usually seen components of the man-made environment. Photography and historical interest/documentation are heavily featured in the hobby and, although it may sometimes involve trespass onto private property, this is not always the case and is of innocent intention. Urban exploration is also commonly referred to as infiltration, although some people consider infiltration to be more closely associated with the exploration of active or inhabited sites. It may also be referred to as draining (when exploring drains), urban spelunking, urban rock climbing, urban caving, or building hacking.
The nature of this activity presents various risks, including both physical danger and the possibility of arrest and punishment. Many, but not all, of the activities associated with urban exploration could violate local or regional laws and certain broadly-interpreted anti-terrorism laws or be considered trespassing or invasion of privacy.*
I’ve always been somewhat interested in old, abandoned buildings, and the stories they tell. Recently, this curiosity has become heightened as I look for good/unique photoshoot locations, so the blend is a perfect match. I cannot count the hours I’ve spent over the last month or so reseraching places online and seeing the stories devellop through the lens of other photographers/explorers. I’ve sent many emails trying to find out as much as I can about specific locations and deatils involving each (security/safety concerns, etc.). My goal will be to start w/ some easier places to explore, gaining some experience, and eventually graduating up to locations that involve more stealth tatics and knowledge.
The first of such visits has been/will be the old Mayfair Theatre, located in downtown Baltimore, MD. Originally built in 1880, the Mayfair Theatre has a long, fascinating history, but today is just another vacant building among many in downtown Baltimore City. The Mayfair closed its doors in April 1986. A simple Google search will reveal many articles and images offering up pieces of this theater’s past. I paid a scouting visit to this location earlier this week, and snapped a quick photo of the exterior. I have a photoshoot here in the upcoming weeks, so more pictures to come. Here is the building as it looks today: