Urban exploration, also known as urbex, is the practice of exploring man-made structures that are often abandoned, derelict, or otherwise inaccessible to the general public. The term “urbex” is a combination of the words “urban” and “exploration,” and the activity has become increasingly popular in recent years, with many people drawn to the thrill of discovering hidden places and uncovering the secrets of the past.
In this article, we’ll explore the history of urbex, its current state of popularity, and the many different facets of this fascinating activity.
The History of Urbex
The practice of urban exploration has been around for as long as there have been abandoned buildings and hidden spaces to explore. In fact, the idea of exploring abandoned spaces can be traced back to the 19th century, when artists and writers were drawn to the ruins of ancient civilizations and the decaying grandeur of abandoned castles and palaces.
However, the modern-day urban exploration movement really began to take shape in the 1950s and 1960s, when a group of French artists known as the Situationist International began exploring the urban landscape in search of new ways to experience the city. The Situationists were interested in creating what they called “psychogeographical maps” of the city, which would reveal the hidden emotional and psychological terrain of the urban environment.
In the 1970s and 1980s, urban exploration began to gain popularity among a wider audience, thanks in part to the rise of the punk and post-punk subcultures. Bands like The Clash and Joy Division were known for their fascination with urban decay and the gritty, industrial landscapes of their home cities, and their fans often followed suit, exploring abandoned factories, warehouses, and other structures in search of adventure.
Today, urbex has become a global phenomenon, with thousands of people around the world participating in the activity and sharing their experiences online through social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and Tumblr.
The Appeal of Urbex
So what is it about urbex that makes it so appealing to so many people? There are a number of different factors that contribute to the popularity of the activity, including:
The Thrill of Discovery
One of the main draws of urbex is the thrill of discovering something new and unexpected. Whether it’s stumbling upon an abandoned factory in the middle of the woods or finding an old theater that has been hidden away for decades, there’s a sense of excitement and adventure that comes with exploring these hidden spaces.
The Sense of History
For many urbex enthusiasts, exploring abandoned buildings is a way to connect with the past and uncover the stories of the people who once lived or worked in these spaces. From old factories and warehouses to schools and hospitals, each location has its own unique history and legacy, and urbex offers a way to preserve and celebrate that history.
The Creative Potential
Urbex can also be a creative outlet for photographers, filmmakers, and artists, who use the abandoned spaces as backdrops for their work. From stunning photos of decaying buildings to short films that explore the eerie atmosphere of abandoned spaces, there’s no shortage of creative potential in urbex.
The Sense of Community
Finally, urbex has a strong sense of community and camaraderie among its participants. Many urbexers form friendships and connections through online forums and social media groups, sharing tips, advice, and stories about their experiences.