August 4th, 2011
Let me start off by saying that I'm a photographer.
Today, I went on a trip with a small group of friends to my first ever Urban Exploration Expedition. I gotta say, it was incredible.
First, we stopped at a Power Plant.
This Power Plant was SUPPOSED to be deserted; it didn't turn out that way. In fact, they still use some of the substations there. First, we had to walk two blocks to even find the access point in the fence (ya know, where the chains were cut). Then, we ran across a field the size of a High School Track. After that, we climbed through a window which was roughly 3 feet long, two feet wide, and a good eight feet off the ground. It was rough; we used a cement block to hoist ourselves up. Once inside, we moved to the third floor.
Not fifteen minutes after being in the building, one of the girls was photographing by one of the old broken windows. She thought she heard voices, she looked outside..she did. Three workers in uniforms and hardhats were standing outside. One of them was on the phone. She heard him say something along the lines of "Yeah, well, we got a tip that some kids ran behind the building..so, I guess we'll bring the cops in."
One of the members of our group, the other guy (two guys, two girls) had wondered off up the stairs even further to see if he could find an access to the roof. We had NO idea where the guy went.
So the three of us are standing there, freaking out, trying to decide what to do, right? Well, we decided to book it; we had no idea what "bring in the cops" meant, and figured they'd search the place.
One of the girls called the guys phone, and he came running back down eight flights of stairs to meet us.
We went down to the first floor where we entered. We had to climb back out the window, but from the inside, there wasn't a way to climb up. We ended up using a stool to hoist ourselves up; one of the legs was broken and it wobbled like crazy. One by one, we went back out the window feet-first. We used the cement block to come back out as well, being the tallest, I exited last. No one had been holding said cement block for me, and it ended up toppling over when I stepped on it. Yeah, that was a fun fall.
We made sure we had everyone and everything, and high-tailed it back the same way we came in; running as fast as we could towards the hole in the fence.
The cops showed up just after we had all gone out of the fence; now, we were on another companies property. They were still functioning, some construction company of some sort. Probably the ones that saw us go in and called in the tip. The cops spotted us in the companies lot, and forced us to stop. When we were questioned, we said we had just been trying to find a way to the Waterfront (the Power Plant is located at a river). The cops gave us a lecture about trespassing, and told us to leave.
Oh well, better than getting arrested, right?
We continued on, after all, it was only about 9:00 AM.
Now, this is the location where we were originally supposed to travel. Thomas Edison (formally known as Julia de Burgos High) High School. Now, let me tell you all about this:
We went exploring on a Thursday. We had originally planned to travel to Edison, and the trip was to take place the day before (Wednesday). We had to change our plans at the last minute because one of the people who wanted to go had to work on Wednesday.
Well, Wednesday afternoon, a 4-Alarm Fire broke out at the abandoned school. In the front section, two of the floors burned.
Although I was/am very disappointed we didn't get the chance to walk through the school, if we hadn't changed our plans, we would have been caught in the fire, for sure.
We went today back, just to see the damage.
Like I said, the top couple floors burned. The floors collapsed on themselves. Total wreckage where the fire raged. One of the locals we talked to, located in a townhouse right across the Alley, told us they were evacuated during the blaze, it was so bad. From the sidewalk you could tell just how badly devastated it really was.
While walking around the exterior taking photos, we ran into another Urban Explorer. He was chill; he told us about another school nearby we could travel to, and he'd lead us through it. Word, dawg. We arranged to follow him there.
We continued on, and eventually ran into the owner of the building. He bought the School on June 30th. Dude, after a month and some change, there's a fire? That sucks. One of the girls asked him about the auditorium, and whether or not it had been damaged. The auditorium is stunning; it's two stories - a stage, a ground floor, and a balcony. It's amazingly beautiful, and I had REALLY been looking forward to shooting it, and was incredibly bummed out when I couldn't because of the fire. However, I got the chance to go in and shoot it!
Thrilled, we carried on, following our new buddy to the other school. It was an abandoned Elementary School - defunct in the 70s.
This school was incredible. It was ridiculously easy to get into, too. The back door was open and no one was around. Once inside, the ride was ridiculously smooth. Our new friend lead the way through the school; very knowledgeable.
I really love Urban Exploration; I've always been interested in historic and abandoned sites, and I'm very glad I did this, despite the danger. I feel I'll definitely be doing more in the future. ;P
Exploring in your backyard,