A Decade in the Depths: An Urban Explorer's Journey

Olympia Dumbo Tower in Late Evening

A decade has swiftly passed since my inaugural dive into the urban underworld, armed with a second-hand Canon T3i secured from eBay. The alleys of inner Brooklyn beckoned, leading me to a desolate rail line in the heart of Flatbush. That day remains etched in memory: the anticipation of a newly-acquired camera, the thirst to decipher its mysteries, and the burgeoning desire to capture the city's hidden tales. While online tutorials and articles offered some guidance, it was the hands-on experience, right there in the city’s underbelly, that truly honed my skills.

Scaling the fence and descending a gritty incline, I found myself on the sweltering tracks, enveloped by the stifling heat of a typical New York summer day — a day when the sun’s piercing rays seem relentless and the city's concrete radiates an oppressive warmth.

I have come a long way from out-of-focus graffiti pictures when I first started back on June 28, 2013.

As I wandered beneath the iconic boulevards of Brooklyn, I discovered an underground gallery. Here, graffiti wasn't mere vandalism, but the vibrant voice of a subculture. Murals burst forth in an explosion of color, unseen by the masses overhead. The graffiti was a testament to the brave souls who dared to venture here, turning the gloom into a canvas of creativity.

But this subterranean world wasn't without its guardians. Swarms of mosquitoes, the true rulers of this realm, descended upon me with a voracity I'd never known. Yet, amidst the biting and buzzing, I witnessed the remnants of countless graffiti artists: rusted paint cans, their contents long spent, lining the tracks like forgotten relics.

My journey took me to a major highway overpass, where the sight of rail cars gave me pause. Was this track still in service? Or was it a vestige of another era? The potential risks of venturing further became palpable. Deciding not to push my luck, I retraced my steps, with my camera brimming with memories of a world hidden in plain sight.

A decade has since passed. From the urban sprawl of New York to the hidden corners of Virginia, Vermont, and Rhode Island, I've ventured into abandoned factories, hallowed churches, and silent power plants. These abandoned factories, mills, and warehouses stand as silent witnesses to times gone by, and capturing their essence has become my life's passion. My early days in the subway trenches seem almost quaint in comparison to the vast tapestry I've since woven with my lens.

Yet, with time, I've come to realize two oversights. The first: neglecting the exteriors of the buildings I so meticulously explored. The second: my late entry into the world of urban exploration. The early 2000s were a golden era, a time before the rise of social media platforms cast its relentless spotlight on these hidden gems that have now flooded these sanctuaries with foot traffic. The rise of social media has brought throngs of explorers, driven not by a love for history, but by a thirst for views and virality.

Despite the changing landscape, my message remains simple: venture forth with respect and reverence. Cherish the stories these places tell, for they are fleeting. And as I look forward to another decade of exploration, I raise my camera in salute to the beauty that lies in decay, waiting to be discovered. Here's to another decade of unearthing tales and capturing the soul of forgotten spaces amidst the ever-changing urban landscape.


Popular posts from this blog

Historic Killingly Ballouville Mill

Echoes of the Oven: The Legacy of Nicetown Freihofer's Bakery

Rockaway Metal Products Corporation

Doorway on the Passaic River

Wildcliff Mansion (Cyrus Lawton House) Revisit on Anniversary of Fire