urban exploration

  • Quick stop in Philly/Asylum in the snow

    ←Days 1-2

    After staying up editing photos from Friday and listening to Sergio snore until almost 3am, waking up at 5am on Saturday didn’t happen easily for me. Nonetheless, we got up, stopped to pick up Ron as the sun was coming up, and we were on our way to Philly for the day. We got there around 9am and our first stop was an old boxing gym. I had seen pics of this place before and instantly knew I had to go here ASAP. Although it was basically just one room, it didn’t disappoint. I’ve been to a church with a boxing ring in it, but it was nothing like this. There’s a guy that lives there and provides security to the place, so it’s remained really well preserved. I assume they have done or will do some filming here before they rebuild or tear the place down.

    front row floor seat the ramp top row

    Next, we went to an old school that I’d been to about 3 years ago. Not much there has changed, but the place is pretty awesome, so I guess that’s a good thing. We started from the rooftop basketball court and made our way down through the building, taking probably way more time than we should’ve, knowing we had several other places we wanted to go. Regardless, we had a good time and worked up an appetite, so we headed over to Pat’s to grab a quick bite and figure out where we’re going next. Here are some shots from the school.

    rooftop court hallway classroom restroom Divine sighting classroom

    We decided to go check out an old bank after lunch, but I got a text from Ramy, saying we should check out a church that’s wide open, so we change direction and head there instead. Ron had been there before, so he immediately knew something was different when we pulled up. The place had been very recently boarded up. Luckily, we saw a few places on the way. We tried to find this big fortress looking building, but when we found it, it was obviously in use. Instead, we went for the sure thing and stopped by an old factory we knew we could get into, which also happened to be the size of a small city. We ended up just staying there for the rest of the day.

    passage reflection huge open space pallet tracks desk lines doorway electrical pillars skylights

    We took Sunday off from exploring and drove to Brooklyn for some BBQ (not that great), then we rode the train to Chinatown to shoot people on the streets. Eventually, it started snowing, so we went back to the hotel to meet up with Pun from Dealers NY and get some product to shoot back in Atlanta. We set alarms for 6am and planned to hit one more place Monday morning before we turn the rental car back in and fly home. Apparently we needed sleep because none of woke up until about 8. We packed up our stuff, checked out of the hotel, and headed to one last abandoned hospital to hang out until we had to go to the airport. The approach to the building was awesome. The sun was shining but there was still snow everywhere. After some a brief search, we found our way in and explored every floor and wing in the building. At one point, all three of us were each just roaming around and taking pictures all alone. We ended up finding each other and the exit pretty easily, and got the rental car back just in time. We didn’t go everywhere or see everything that we wanted in the amount of time we had, but it all worked out pretty well.

    sofa sink bathroom crumbling bathroom entryway graff attic stairs bench  dishwasher tiny room hallway empty room  basement graff cardiac basement windows

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  • Unprepared for NY

    For the first big trip of the year, Sergio, Belina and I decided to skip the 13 hour drive and fly up to New York for a few days. As soon as we landed, we grabbed the shitty Kia Rio rental car (no arm rest or cruise control!), and headed straight to pick up Ron somewhere in the streets of Queens to head to an abandoned hospital that none of us had previously been to. After a short, traffic-filled drive, we park and head in. First thing we notice when we walk in are the lights that are on in the bottom floor, construction drop lights hanging throughout. We decide to head to the top and work our way down. After a quick stop on the roof to get a few snaps for Snapchat, we go down a level and start looking for anything we can shoot. There wasn’t a ton of stuff left behind, but we were able to stay busy there until the sun went down. It worked out pretty good for the first quick stop on day one.

    lighted hall desk light bed chair high chair patient room phone paperwork doors

    After dropping Ron off at home and grabbing some tasty burgers from Petey’s, we went back to the hotel to rest up for Friday. We got up early and returned to a location we explored before, but we wanted to find a few new specific areas (most of which we couldn’t find/access). It turned out to be quite the adventure trying to navigate dark, underground tunnels and it quickly became evident that we came to this place completely unprepared. After doing our best to keep our socks dry (mostly unsuccessfully), we enter a group of buildings we’ve never been to, all connected by these tunnels. We didn’t get many photos here, but it was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. We had to get creative in building our own bridge down what seemed like never-ending dark tunnels, only to find out that we went the wrong way! Now we needed to backtrack through that long tunnel filled with water and actually go the opposite way down an equally long, dark, and water-filled tunnel to the other side of the complex. This was a much more tiring process than we anticipated! Eventually we made it, and found out we’re still not in the correct building we were looking for. Aside from having to go back down the same tunnel again, the place we’re looking for isn’t even connected to these tunnels! We then make the brilliant decision to forgo the bridge idea that’s kept us mostly dry, and try to find bags to cover our shoes. One of the first rooms we find is full of big, very thin plastic bags of adult (like XXXL) size diapers. I joked about putting the diapers on our shoes and Belina came up with the idea to just use the bags that the diapers are in, so we each grab two, pull the diapers out, stuff our feet in the bags, and try to find/think of a way to keep them on. First thing I see is a telephone cord, so I pull that out of the floor and tie it around a leg. It was long enough to tie both of mine and still leave enough room in the middle so i can walk (basically like a prisoner in shackles). So, back down the stairs and into the water we go. I went first and realized after a few steps that this was a terrible idea, and my right foot was already filling with disgusting tunnel water. I basically just started running and got to the dry area pretty fast, but both feet were completely soaked. Actually, I’m pretty sure all six of our feet were drenched by then. We make our way back to an alternate exit and walk back to the car to regroup and to go grab some lunch nearby. Turned out to be perfect timing, because security drove by just as we were putting our stuff in the trunk.

    After finding out exactly where we needed to go, we finished eating and drove back around the other buildings. There were a few people walking around and the security SUV was sitting right where we needed to go. We decided to go to another place nearby and see as much as we could before it got dark on us. The next place was definitely easier. When we got there, there were people walking their dogs all over the property, so we just parked and started walking around. The first couple buildings didn’t yield much in the way of photographs, but the last ones were decent. We were actually about to leave and we ended up stopping and going in one last building. We ran into some kids there who said there was a building with a morgue and other stuff in it, but (of course) we missed it because the sun was starting to go down. We also had to wake up at 5am to go to Philly on Saturday…which I’ll post about next.

    top level doors tunnels caving in sky light exposed messy sink stairs hallway pipeline crumbling bed rusty

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  • Quick run to the beach for “landscape” shots

    Thinking I could get a few shots for a recent show at Notch8, I decided at the last second to make a quick run to Florida to shoot some landscapes. I ended up getting there just in time to meet up with Dylan and Kayla, eat a burger, then go shoot the sunset. After it got dark, I drove downtown to shoot a bit until I met up with Matt and Dylan later. We met intending to go into an abandoned hotel and possibly a tall office building, but after being denied, we decided to go check out a funeral home we heard about. None of had been there before, but a buddy had warned us that there’s a guy named Brian that lives there and we’re likely to run into him. When he was there, he gave Brian a little entry fee and apparently he left them alone after that. So after parking by a cop next door, then driving around the block a few times, we settled on a better place to park nearby. After we find our way in, I’m quickly reminded of a story of Brian scaring the shit out of everyone by coming out of a hearse unexpectedly. Using our flashlights, we check, and no sign of anyone in the hearse. Crazy that anyone would sleep in there though. I’m usually not a big fan of exploring at night, but we were told that this place actually had some lights on. We make our way down a hall and by a small staircase with one light, then into a small room with a bed turned over with just one bulb left in the chandelier, leaving a crazy shadow on the wall. It had rained most of the afternoon and this place was leaking everywhere. It was pretty creepy hearing water dripping everywhere around you, yet not being able to see anything you’re not pointing your flashlight at. The chapel area also had one single light, right above a podium with an open bible on it. After getting a few shots there, I tried to get a couple shots in total darkness, then we head upstairs. One of the first doors we try is barricaded, and I think we all kinda freeze and realize that it’s Brian’s room at about the same time. We leave that room alone. Next, we go into a large room holding a bunch of caskets and really old (from 1950!) human remains in wooden boxes. Whoa. Upstairs, it was completely dark, but using our flashlights we get a couple shots of Matt laying in one of the caskets (!), then realize maybe we should come back during the day to get better photos of the place.

    Chandelier organ podium bookcase

    After the weather cancelled our trip an hour away for the sunrise (and staying up way too late). I meet Dylan downtown for lunch and we decide to try a few other buildings downtown. We see the last couple people leaving the loading dock area of one place (where there were 9 people sleeping the night before), so we go next door to check out another building that is supposed to have a huge tree growing inside it. We find a way in and make our way through the pretty boring building. Rooftop didn’t really have any views and the higher you got, the sketchier the floors were. And no giant tree! We took a few shots then go back next door to see if everyone is gone. All clear, but the loose board we find does not have the kind of opening we were hoping for. We decide to go back to the hotel to give it a try during the day. Shut down once again. They’re pretty good and fast about sealing places up around here. We decide just to head back to the funeral home to get shots of the upper floor during the day. I didn’t get any use-able landscape shots that I went to Florida for, but this funeral home was worth it, by itself.

    bricks bathroom no view light chapel  office area old stuff IMG_2506_07_08_09_10_11_12_tonemapped full service options caskets open stairs entrance couch wicker casket

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  • Detroit One More Time

    On our way back from the October trip, we decided we needed to try at least one more that year (2015), so we settled on New OrleansMemphis…Detroit (again) for November. There were a couple locations that we had missed on previous trips and one that we needed to see more of, so it was a logical decision, as long as we time it right and don’t go during a blizzard or something. Only a quick 3-day trip, we set off on Thursday evening to get a jump start on the drive and crash at our favorite Embassy Suites in Dayton, OH. On our way to Detroit in the morning, we returned to a psych hospital to get another look, and to check out a few buildings we missed before. Tony wanted to go too, so we had him meet us nearby. Before long, we were back inside and started looking for a morgue, while also showing Tony some of the highlights of the first buildings. We finally found the morgue and we even got some snow on the terrace! Luckily we were prepared for cold weather this time. Tony had to take off, so we checked out a few more buildings until it got too dark to shoot anymore. After that, we head to Detroit for some Slow’s BBQ for a quick Friday night dinner. Not a bad day to start it off.

    caution check in over the terrace long haul third terrace reflection morgue cafeteria midcourt table showers tub

    We started the weekend with Max at a place I’d seen a million pics of before, but we had to check it out, as it’d been recently become accessible again. It was a fun entry and had some pretty nice railings, but as can happen in Detroit, it quickly became an instameet and it was full of people. Still good to see some old friends and make some new ones that morning. We finish up and head to a nearby school. Big and dilapidated, but not super exciting. Then we stopped by Eastown Theater. I’m glad we did, as it was torn down just a week or two later. After that, we go check out a church real quick before lunch. There were actually kids playing basketball in the gym at the abandoned church.

    architecture couch gym dark pool hallway shadows and reflections no books seats Eastown Theater upper level Eastown Theater light doors empty room church

    We stop for some coneys and eat some of Renee’s cake, strike out on a couple schools, then settle on an abandoned library. I’m starting to think we’re running out of exciting places to go in Detroit, but then we go to a hospital that I can’t believe I’d never stopped at before. We meet Renee and Glen nearby and see a couple guys taking pics outside. They’re parked right in front of the place, so after we ask them to move their truck, we all go in and start shooting. We all kind of split up, but meet again on the roof for a great sunset to end the day.

    library piano library desk hospital hall bedroom window MCS in the Distance srittups bedroom with a view

    On the last day, we started the morning out of town and with somewhat limited time, but we try to make the best of a couple hours at a large prison property and only explore a few buildings. We still didn’t get back to Detroit to meet Renee for lunch until around 2pm. Our poor time management left us time to explore just one more building before we had to hit the road for the 11 hour drive home. We happened to see a large church on the way to eat, so we decide to go take a look. It quickly starts getting dark, so we wrap it up and head back to Atlanta. Not a bad way to end the last big road trip of the year. I even got home nice and early….at 3am.

    cells cell block seat bars chair gym shovels smoke police the brain church view from the top looking out

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  • The Big One (pt.3)

    ←Trip 1

    ←Trip 2

    ←Trip 3 (pt.1)

    ←Trip 3 (pt.2)

    After finally getting Sergio (this fool only brought shorts to Chicago in late October) some pants and waiting over an hour and a half for a pizza, we close out day 3 and before you know it, we’re up early the next morning and picking up C2X in Chicago. The first stop was a graff-heavy spot, with silos. We saw tons of graffiti, a couple Swampy pieces, went under the silos, saw a couple other dudes exploring, then we left. I was the first to walk out to the road and the first car I see heading my direct looks like a van with blue lights on it, so I quickly turn around and tell everyone else to get back. Sure enough, a police van rolls by slowly. We make our way over to a small park-ish area nearby and just decide to leave. The van drove right by us again and may not have even looked our way or even noticed us. We take that as a sign that we should go get breakfast and check out a church C2X heard about.

    rays swamy swampy dusty silo so much dust

    The breakfast was fantastic, the church – not so much. C2X sees no way in and we decide to head to a power plant on the way back to Indiana. The power plant was another spot full of graffiti, a lot of large machinery, and a pile of tires. We make our way through pretty quickly (I was a little worried about the car after a concerned-looking neighbor stared at us while we parked) and we head over to a few small abandoned houses before we take off back to Gary before it gets too late.

     tires and grafftires huge power machinery power plant  power plant machineryfree gucci

    After a while everything was kinda blending together and I couldn’t remember where I’d been or what we had tried and failed to get into, but we ended up visiting a couple more schools in Gary. This was around the time we were getting pretty tired, so after having a pretty good scare with a cop parking right in front of the window, we decide to call it a night and head back to take C2X home. These pictures may or may not be in and kind of order…

    halls amuse class long shadows piles chair scissors birdhouse skylight desk

    After a quick drop off, we plan to grab quick bite, the meet up with another IG friend Brian to do a little light shooting. After eating the most delicious burger I’ve ever eaten in my life at Small Cheval and just before hearing back from Brian, we decide to just head to the hotel to get some sleep before another early morning of exploring. We had one day left, so we had to make it count. After a bit of picture editing, listening to Sergio snore, and taking a nap, alarms are already going off and it’s time to go. We meet up with C2X and hit one of my favorite spots I’ve been to. Prisons and asylums (abandoned) are definitely my favorite kinds of locations, so spending a day at a prison before hopping in a car for 10 hours sounded pretty fantastic to me, tired or not. It was definitely worth it. I actually wish we had more time. We could’ve spent a couple more hours there, but we were getting hungry and had that 10 hour drive still to go. We had a bit of an issue with an unexpected visitor when we tried to leave, but we make it out with no real problems. Probably good that we left when we did, because I still got home at 4:30am. One of these days, we’ll try to include some sleeping in our plans. Here are a ton of pics from our last stop.

    first tier cell bars lockdown  exit cell block entrance to cell block lunch room gym elroy old camera evidencelaundry machine laundry chapel the yard

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  • The Big One (pt.2)

    ←Trip 1

    ←Trip 2

    ←Trip 3 (pt.1)

    After stopping for a much-needed meal, we headed to C2X’s place to crash for the night. We got there pretty late as it is, but we end up hanging out, talking, and listening to music until like 1-2am anyway. By then, everyone is tired and retreated to their bedrooms for the night. I stayed up an extra hour or two editing photos, take a quick nap, and before you know it, we’re up and on our way to Gary, IN. On the way, we stopped by an abandoned plastic factory and shot a few pics. We also passed a couple other spots nearby, but we continued to Gary. Here are a couple pics from the plastic place…

    skylight duct reflection barrel

    I’ve been to Gary to explore before, a few years back, but since then, the roof of the popular church in town had caved in and I remembered there being way more to see. The church is a well known spot, so we decide to make that the place to meet up with a couple that I’ve been following on Instagram since the early days, Nick and Ashley. We didn’t realize they were already there, so we go in and start shooting. After a few minutes, we saw someone on the upper level, and then Nick comes walking down to introduce himself. We chat for a second, then head upstairs to meet Ashley, and to our surprise, Renee and Deanna were there from Detroit too! No other surprises at the church though. Everything was pretty similar to my last visit, besides the missing roof, which I’d already seen amazing pictures of.

    holy roof beams shelves burn them dance room dark hall from the stage auditorium

    We head out to go to the next spot and end up seeing Ahmad pulling up too! We’re now a couple ‘grammers short of a full-blown instameet, but undeterred, we head to a nearby factory. This was a place I’d actually never even heard of, but apparently it’s a pretty popular location. It was a huge spot, filled with giant bags of clothes, and a lot of graffiti. We spent a lot of time (maybe too much?) there and ended up getting left by our friends. Hate that we missed them for the rest of the trip, but I got one of my favorite shots of the trip there, right before we left (the cover photo).

    clothes pillars factory hallway restroom stairs wide elevator gotham faces

    We were getting hungry and everyone else was gone, so we go to grab food at 18th Street Brewery. Pretty good stuff. I don’t think we had a ton of choices in Gary though. Apparently the Act of Defiance beer there is good too. Sergio grabs a six-pack and we head to a school to continue exploring. We were certain we’d run into the rest of the group once we got inside, but that place was pretty big and we saw no trace of anyone else at all. We decide to stay there until it gets dark and we’ll come back to Gary the following day. I’ll post the rest of this trip on a following day/post as well…

    auditorium desk triple beams piano teachers desk railed hallway dark gym rack science chair the world

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  • The Big One (pt.1)

    ←Trip 1

    ←Trip 2

    This October trip was actually one that Tripp and I had planned several months earlier, but due to unforeseen circumstances, Tripp was forced to stay in Georgia, while Sergio, Belina, and I came up with an itinerary that included 4 cities in 5 days. This was going to be the big one we’ve been waiting a while for and it didn’t disappoint. As always, we had a bit of a game plan with reserved hotels, but we just hit whatever buildings we can find and get into, once we get into town. The first stop on Wednesday morning was Cleveland. I’ve seen a ton of pictures from a popular church there, so we go there first. I was told that it was sealed up and it certainly seemed that way, new boards everywhere. I wish I could share details on how we got in this one, but I’ll just say we ended up finding a weak spot and we get in with relatively no issues. Solid location, with tons of damage inside, but still holds an old organ. After 30 minutes or so, I’m pretty sure I hear someone with a weed-eater right outside. Nonetheless, we get our shots and get out, but not before I somehow stab myself with a giant chunk of rusty metal, right through my glove. Sure enough, there are landscapers there, mowing the lawn and trimming the hedges and shit. We quickly bounce and it starts to rain pretty hard. We decide to make use of Yelp and go for a much needed meal (and restroom) at a local spot called Tastebuds. We lucked out. One, by not having Term (terrible luck) with us and two, by going on Wednesday which is apparently meatloaf day. It was pretty fantastic. Aside from the bloody glove, it’s a really good start. Here are some photos from the church.

    church side view organ ceiling

    After stuffing ourselves with meatloaf and garlic mashed potatoes, we head out in the rain, looking for the next spot to explore. We find a building that I had on my list from previous research and try to decide whether we want to stop there or try one of the several surrounding abandoned (looking) buildings. We find a place to park and walk (still raining) to the building. It wasn’t really anything special. Some graff and decent views of downtown Cleveland. We didn’t spend a ton of time there, but it was finally no longer raining when we left. We figure we have time to hit one more spot before we head off to Detroit, so we try a nearby Masonic Temple. Not a bad spot, much bigger than it looks from the outside, but probably the most interesting thing we saw there was a gopher (not really even sure if it was a gopher…some rodent-like creature with a big tail) outside. Here are some shots from the warehouse.

    views empty in the open potty

    And the temple…

    temple open book behind the curtain silent

    After entertaining the thought of stopping in Toledo to find some buildings to explore, we decide to just head on to downtown Detroit, stop at the hotel, then head to Small Plates for dinner (and so Sergio could get a Ghetto Blaster). Up late editing photos (and listening to Sergio snore insanely loud), then early again Thursday morning to meet up with C2X  to explore new places around Detroit. We agree to meet with him around 8am, maybe 9, because he still had a few hours to drive. I text him at 7:45 saying “we’re headed to southwestern high first”. No reply and doesn’t show delivered, no big deal, we head to Southwestern. Last time we were here, a cop was sitting out front. This time, we get there and there’s full construction going on, people everywhere. We missed it. But that’s how it goes – there one day, gone or sealed up the next. We head north to try another school. This one is in what seems to be a pretty bad part of town, but we drive around a little, and find another huge school and a small church right around the corner. We find the street with the nicest cars and park there. We walk over to the first school and in we go. The school was pretty empty, but had a few decent rooms downstairs. Finally hear from C2X around 9:15, who says “dude, worst morning ever. give me a call…”. I’m already thinking “damn, something probably happened and he isn’t going to make it”. Instead, he’s actually already made it to Detroit. His phone just completely took a shit and was not working, contacts and all. He had to stop people downtown and ask to borrow their phones, so he could find the closest AT&T store to get a new phone. While it was a shitty situation, it was still pretty hilarious to think he had to do this. C2X is a super clean guy, but be has a huge beard and wasn’t exactly wearing a 3-piece suit, so I’m sure people thought he was going to rob them or run off with their phones. Nonetheless, he was able to find a store, buy a new phone, then finally make contact with us. Luckily this is the only bit of bad luck we’ll have. We meet at the first school and shortly after, walk down to the big school down the street. The second one was way better (and was actually the one I was looking for to begin with).

    classroom hallway love jelly organ divider stairs light

    Second school…

    window 3D pool seats hallway gym get out library

    On the way back to the car, we take a look around the small church, but figure it’s not worth the trouble (we later found out, we probably should’ve gone in). We head out to make a quick revisit by the synagogue, then go to another church that’s attached to a small school. The school was pretty lame in my opinion (and I didn’t even take any photos there), so I head over to the church. Another half-decent spot, but now I’m starting to realize we’ve seen most of the best of what Detroit has to offer.

    synagogue synagogue angle church art seating overview piano knife

    At this point, we’re not doing great on time and the weather seems to be getting iffy again, so we coordinate a quick meet up with Tony and Nathalie at Packard, basically to just hang out and talk, and play a bit with Tony’s new (at the time) drone. I didn’t even go in or take and pictures, but it’s always good to see old friends while in town, even if it’s only for a few minutes. After the others shoot a little inside, we decide if we’re going to hit one last spot, we’ll do a big one and stay until we have no light left. Really glad we left when we did. The rain finally stopped and we roll up to a huge (and heavily patrolled) abandoned psych hospital. After getting in, it was clear that this was going to be a highlight of the trip. The place was massive. We didn’t have much time, so we quickly breeze through one building (where C2X swears he hears voices) and go looking for a way to the tallest building through the underground (pitch black) tunnels. C2X and I ended up scaring the shit out of a couple kids down there and they took off running, not knowing they scared the shit out of us (me) too. After that quick “WTF just happened?!” moment, we proceed to the stairwell and head to the top. Several floors up, we hear other voices and foot steps, so we hang out for a sec and end up running into the kids we scared in the tunnels. We talked to them for a few minutes and we’re told the pool and bowling alley, etc is in the rec building. Without asking where this building is (like dumbasses) or if there was a morgue, we head back down to find Sergio and Belina. After finding them and a quick look at the satellite map, we head towards (what we guessed looked like) the rec building. Luckily, we guessed correctly and stayed there until the sun was going down. I also just realized this post is way too long, so here are some pics from the hospital and the rest of this trip will be coming soon….

    theater seats theater entrance bathroom tub office mail room mail tubes   bowling alleys pool gym deep end

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  • Trip #2 – NYC

    ←Trip 1

    Planning this one out, we had a better idea of what to expect – lots of driving, no sleep, amazing spots. We were right on, just this time with way more traffic and a longer drive. Again, we left Thursday afternoon in another awesome rental (Ford Fiesta this time), but headed out around 3pm this time. Without Atlanta traffic, we should’ve gotten to our hotel in Richmond around 11pm. We ended up getting there around 1am. Alarms set at 4 or 5am, I can’t remember, but we didn’t get much sleep and got to Ron‘s around 10:30am. Off to the first spot…

    Always interesting when trying to enter a semi-active location on a weekday morning, people and workers walking all around. Nonetheless, a little searching and in we go. I’ve been to this hospital before, but this building was sealed at the time, so as soon as we got in here, I quickly forgot about the 13 hours of driving and few hours of sleep. Body full of adrenaline, I pull the camera out and we start exploring. There were a couple particular things here I wanted (needed) to see here, the hall of balls and the chopper. This building was just full of amazing scenes. This building combined with the others from a previous visit are easily in my top 5 explores ever. I’ve gotten some of my favorite pictures from this place. Here are a few from this building…

    Windows Lary coat check twins deep chair green room bed bugs bucket seat balls chopper

    After safely leaving there, we decided we’d go to another abandoned psych hospital somewhat nearby until the sun goes down. When we got there, it was immediately evident that we weren’t the only ones about to go in one of the buildings. As we pulled up, there was a car-full of teenagers hanging out by where we parked, looking like they were getting ready to party. Apparently the party was inside, because there were probably at least 20 other people in there walking around, a bunch of kids, but there were also people in there who must’ve been in their 50’s. We spend an hour or two in this building, looking for a specific hallway which was destroyed, then headed over to the big building. Again, as we pull up here, more kids hanging out in the parking lot, seemingly carelessly. Are there zero cops/security patrolling around here? We park along side like 5 other cars/trucks and walk over to the other building. Before we even get there, we can hear music and someone popping off a paintball gun from the roof, like 15 stories up. I’ve never experienced anything like this at any abandonment, let alone a giant psych hospital. Luckily, the kids either didn’t see us or didn’t take aim at us as we walked up. We jump in and start shooting. I walked into some sort of foyer or lobby with a skylight, take a few shots, then as I walk away we hear a huge bang on the roof. Immediately, I’m wondering “WTF are they throwing off the roof??”. Whatever it was, it sounded big. We kept hearing it, maybe every minute or so. You could almost feel every hit, it was so loud and shook everything above us. As Ron walked toward the foyer, a huge chunk of concrete came flying in through the missing skylight. I was pretty pissed when I saw that. I started thinking “what if that shit hit me or Ron while we were in there?”. I honestly wanted to go up and start throwing them off the roof one by one. We decide we’ll let them have their fun and we’ll go get some more shots.

    blue hall options rays pipes basement hallway asbestos left turn golden hour entrance

    Finally, it was getting dark and we decide to take Ron home and go check into the hotel. We have notoriously bad traffic in Atlanta, but we have absolutely nothing on New York. Not only are they super aggressive and not use turn signals, but there are so many cars on the road, they need like 10 lanes everywhere. Anyway, it took forever to get back to the hotel, so we ended up eating some shitty pizza and getting a few hours of sleep. Alarms set for 6am…

    So we get up at…7am and head to pick up Ron in Queens. He’s still not answering texts or calls when we get there just after 8, so we walk down the street to a deli for some breakfast. As we’re picking up food, I hear from Ron, and we head back to his place to eat real quick, then we’re off to the 1st spot. After a decent drive, we’re at another huge psych hospital. We hit one building that was pretty cool, then went looking for entry to another, which we understood held the rec center and bowling alley. After walking all around, Sergio jumping in some thorn bushes, trying to hide for no reason, and seeing a marked patrol car driving around, we decide to just head to another location. I probably shouldn’t even admit this, but we stopped to eat at a Pizza Hut (which wasn’t good, but was actually better than the pizza we had the night before) before stopping by a nearby abandoned county jail. I’d seen plenty of pics from this place before, but never realized how big it actually is. There was definitely a guy living in there. It looked like he was bathing or cleaning himself off when we walked in, but he quickly made his way out back, so we either wouldn’t see him or bother him. We hung out there for a while until my friend Sonja from North Carolina met up with us just outside.

    skylight hanging plant auditorium double broken glass kitchen toys bedroom cell block cells falling in stairs home rows of cells missing floors jail paint

    After meeting with Sonja, we decided to hit a school nearby to finish the day. The school was pretty empty, and may have been in the process of being worked on. Not super exciting, but we were able to get an hour or two of shooting out of it. After that, we drove (forever) directly across Manhattan and through Times Square (crazy). I remember many times in the past walking around Times Square, thinking “there’s no fucking way I’d ever drive around in NYC”, and here I am driving right down 42nd St and didn’t even realize where I was until we cross 7th Ave. The traffic is no joke and those cab-drivers are legit maniacs. By the time we drop Ron off in Queens and get back to Long Island City to eat, it was already 9:30pm. We crushed some delicious burgers at Petey’s and went back to the hotel. Are we actually going to get some much-needed sleep? Hell no! We go over to meet up with Sonja at Gantry Plaza State Park and LIC Piers to get a few skyline shots. We planned on getting up around 8am to hit one spot before hitting the road for a short 13 hour drive home, but I think we got back to the hotel around 2:30am….

    shadow on stage hot seat stair well buggy silhouette gym cafeteria pier NYC

    We lazily got up before 9am and probably checked out around 10. Once again, traffic is our enemy. If we had a helicopter, we probably could’ve hit like 5 more spots over the weekend. Nonetheless, we arrive at our last spot around Noon (was really hoping to be on the road to Atlanta by 1pm). It’s our last chance to get some pics here, so we just shoot it up and try not to worry too much about time. Regardless what time we leave, we’ve got a monstrous drive ahead of us (me). I don’t remember what time we finally left, but I know Sergio and Belina were both passed out by the time we hit NC and I still had two more states to go. I fought my heavy eye lids for a few more hours, dropped off the others and finally got home around 4:45am. No sleep, lots of driving, and amazing spots, just like we expected.

    stretcher doors overunder cabinets  bed room crumbling

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  • 1st of 4 very long road trips in 4 months

    On our 1st trip of the year to Detroit, I’m not sure if any of us knew what we were in for. I picked up the awesome (piece of shit) Nissan Versa rental car at 3pm, hoping we could get on the road by like 4. We (I) planned ahead to stay the night in Dayton, OH – it takes about 7-7 1/2 hours to get there, then we’d get up early and finish the drive to Detroit. I think we ended up leaving around 5 or 5:30, stopped to have an extremely long dinner break (Term’s fault) at Cracker Barrel in Tennessee, and rolled into the best Embassy Suites ever, in Dayton around 1am. It’s about 3 hours to Detroit, so we just planned to hit the road around 7 and get to Detroit around 10. On our way there in the morning, Tony called and said he was off work and he would meet us at an abandoned church. Before we even get to Michigan, Tony is saying he’s at the church and there are cops driving all around. We decide to just see how it looks. By the time we get there there’s an ambulance just sitting across from the entrance with a couple of medics in it, looking at us. We decide not to risk anything (literally at the moment we got into town) and just go to another spot that I’ve been to, that should be extremely easy.

    When we pull up to the spot, I’m starting to think we had really terrible luck or something…there’s a tow truck on one side (with a dude sleeping in it), some guys driving heavy machinery or semi trailers into the lot attached to the place, and construction workers on another side just seemingly digging into the ground with shovels while, of course, looking directly at us and talking amongst each other. Besides the fact that the gaping hole in the side of the building (that was there last time) was somehow sealed, Term says he heard them say something to us about calling the cops on us. We’re out on the street, so no big deal, but Tony gets a little freaked out and decides he’ll play it safe and be a lookout for us. The only spot that looked good to enter the building was right by the tow truck. I think we woke him up the first walk-by because when we came back around, he was sitting up in the truck and looking around. I think after we sat and thought about it, this guy was probably just sleeping on the job, so he probably cares as much about us as we do him. Fuck it, we’re going in right in front of him. I go in, followed by Sergio, Belina, and Term. The inside was basically how I remembered it, aside from the huge hole in the wall that was now boarded up. Pretty empty, but dilapidated and a lot of graffiti.


    Clouds inside track stacks pillars

    Turned out, the construction guys, tow truck guy, the workers in the front, and Tony left pretty quickly, but we still weren’t alone. While everyone was on the roof, a young looking couple (they turned out to be brother and sister) walked out of the stairwell and started shooting photos up there as well. I took it upon myself to make my way through the rest of the building to see if I had missed anything the first visit and I ended up running into a group of about 15 people on a photo tour inside the lower area of the building. I text Sergio and to find out where they are and they’re still on the damn roof. I was basically done, so I just went all the way back up there and shot through the building a second time with them. Around 2, we head to the hotel in Dearborn to check in, drop off bags, and rest a bit (or edit pics). While hanging out, I get a text from Renee asking if we wanted to meet around 6 at a tall abandoned apartment building for the sunset – definite yes. It couldn’t have worked out any better, really. We met up with Renee (who ALWAYS shows up with delicious baked goods, this time with Andes mint cookies), Rick, and Jenn there and had just enough light to go through most of the building, then hung out on the roof until the sun went down. Apparently my legs were unprepared that day for going up and down one place twice, then going up 15 stories of stairs at this place, because both of my legs were cramping like crazy when we made it to the roof. It was kinda funny because Rick had us “Atlanta people” stay still for a picture at the exact moment they started cramping, but that shit sucked. We were getting pretty tired from waking up at 6am and all the driving and everything. We had plans to meet Ahmad at 7:30 the next morning, so we had to be up at 6 again. Did we go back to the hotel to get some much needed sleep? Of course not! We went to Rick’s to hang out for a while, then we went to eat at a spot nearby, which takes forever (we now allege Term is just bad luck), before finally heading back to Dearborn to get some sleep. Can I sleep? Of course not! While Term snoozed away, I stayed up until like 2am editing pics.

    nychos trashed detroit view D sunset

    You’d think that another 6am alarm would be dreadful, but not for me. This is the kinda shit I live for. My body and particularly my legs hated me, but we were enthusiastically up, met with Sergio and Belina downstairs and we were off to meet at the stadium. I didn’t know it, but Tazm and friends were coming from Chicago, and Julian and his friend came too. Before we knew it, we had an unexpected instameet there and like 10 of us are all making our way to the entrance. This place was enormous. I’ve been to a couple abandoned stadiums before, but this was crazy. The restaurant area, the luxury boxes, climbing onto the scoreboard….just insane. There were hardly any clouds in the sky so most of my pics from there suck, but it was an incredible experience.

    stadium dining stadium bar tunnel under the seats

    After a few hours it was time to get some delicious food with the group at The Chocolate Gallery Cafe. It’s not a huge place and the four of us from Atlanta ended up at one table and and everyone else at another. This is when we notice a trend, I think we got our food around the time the others were almost done (it’s now become a fact that Term is bad luck when we eat). We decide to go to Curvy next, and meet Renee and Deanna there. Once the 12 of us were inside, we find a couple construction workers inside. Kinda awkward. Luckily, Ahmad talked them into (gave them money) letting us stay to harmlessly take our pictures inside for a bit. I didn’t take many photos, mainly because my legs were cramping with literally every step, but also because there were 12 people in there and I’d been there before anyway. The construction workers impatiently waited for us to leave, then we headed to another church where we were denied, so we made a quick stop at an abandoned synagogue. Sergio popped a smoke bomb and it created some pretty incredible rays, which I was too lazy to get my camera out to take pics of. The group got some great shots there though. After that, we went back to previous church and got in this time. One of the places that’s way bigger inside than it looks from outside.

    renovations Curvy Synagogue side seating always church piano curtains doorway

    Around 4, we were all pretty much tired and done, so the four of us went back to rest (edit pics) at the hotel before meeting Tony and Nathalie for dinner at Small Plates. Who sleeps after chicken and waffles? We went out to do some night shooting around Michigan Central Station instead. We were done by 10:30, so I thought we might actually get some sleep before the last day of the trip, but it’s hard for me to sleep when there are new pics to edit. After a few short hours of sleep, we were checking out of the hotel and heading to meet up with Max and Tony downtown at 8. The last day ended up probably being the best. In the morning, we had the toughest building to get into, that was just full of all kinds of shit, several floors of what looked like different businesses that were abandoned. It was full of medical stuff, but we also saw reels of film and other weird stuff inside. Tony and Max were done, so after that, it was just the four of us. After Ahmad told us that the guys in the ambulance at the first church were also explorers, we decided we’d go back there so they could see it. By the time we were done, we had time to hit one more spot before we leave to drive 11 hours back to Atlanta. We tried to stop by Southwestern High School, but there was a marked car sitting in front, so we decide to head back east (away from home). After making another super long stop for food (Term!) at a KFC with more bullet-proof windows at the drive thru than any bank, we head to a nearby school. The school was in an old neighborhood that was pretty empty, a few abandoned houses and a few houses that just looked abandoned with people in them. We reluctantly parked and proceeded inside. The last place was pretty empty, but was really creepy. The wind was blowing so hard that doors were slamming loud enough for us to seriously contemplate whether they were nearby gunshots or just doors. Nonetheless, we all left extremely tired, but happy to get so much exploring in, in such a short amount of time. We pretty much decided right then that we needed to go somewhere else really soon. Then I drove until we got home at 4am. After averaging like 4 hours of sleep the last 4 days. Really wished I’d taken that day off work. The fatigue had finally set in. Here are some pics from the last day…

    patient room look through files chemicals bench meds SIN film vacuum booksside view church room school stairwell gym classroom auditorium


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  • Another off the list

    Visited an old school over the weekend that we’ve been hoping to see for a long time. This was basically the last location on our list of places to see. It wasn’t the best place ever, but it definitely didn’t disappoint. After destroying my leg getting in, we started looking around. The school was full of peeling walls and was lit by some pretty awesome morning light. Some rooms were empty and some were full of old desks and stuff. It had an armory, a huge auditorium, and what looked like some kind of courthouse setup. Nothing super exciting here, but nice to mark it off the list.



    After realizing my leg was black and blue from Saturday, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do anything on Sunday, but I made it out and I’m glad I did. I met up with Sergio, Belina, and James, and we were invited by a scrapper into his office for the day. This is an interesting location because the department store scenes from the first season of The Walking Dead were filmed here. It actually still says “Bradbury’s” on the doors, so it’s one of the stops for movie tourist tours. Inside there’s not much. The rooftop has decent views, but it’s mostly empty office space. I’d been inside this building once before, but without my camera, so it was nice to be able to take some shots that are beyond my phone’s capabilities. The best thing though, was that we found a way into the main bank area, where the vault is. It was wide open and full of keys and deposit boxes. Pretty awesome way to cap off the day.



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