#12) How to Explore Your City: Urban Exploration in Detroit

Posted on Posted in Best of Season 1, Blog, Crazy Cool Experiences, Season 1

Time: 2hours-7days

Cost: $0-$100

Exploration Level: 5 Christopher Columbus Thumbs Up of Approval out of 5

Increase chance of being fined: 40%

Worth it?: Hell yes

So What is Urban Exploration? 

As defined by wikipedia “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.” It’s the discovery of old ideas, that have been made new by the power of time and mother nature. It’s the exploration of things that you may not have ever deemed “explorable” prior to reading this post. My goal with this post is two fold.

1) To provide you with the resources that will allow you to safely and successfully go exploring

2) For you to be begin to look into the possibilities of adventure and excitement that can come from this type of activity. (For the right person at least, and if you’ve made it this far, I’m assuming you’re interested)


 The Good Stuff

That quote was taken from the book Explore Everything and is what inspired me to learn how to “Urban Explore”. Prior to discovering and absolutely devouring this book (which to be honest is very rare for me), I had no idea that Urban Exploration was even a thing. And my god, is it a thing. When further researched, Urban Exploration is an absolutely massive subculture that spans across the world.

Ripe with furious competition, in-fighting and constant one uppery, the Urban Exploration culture is not for the faint of heart. But if you have a desire for discovery and get a rush from risking your physical health, its a pretty hard thing to turn down. Especially when you start to see potential spots eveerrryywhere. Cause that’s the good stuff.



How to Get Started

In order to do this in a safe and successful manner you’re gonna need a few things.

1. The Proper Materials

You’re gonna be around a lot of broken glass, rotting wood etc…, so its important you have:

  • Decent shoes,
  • A pair of gloves
  • Clothes that aren’t flashy, and you don’t mind getting wrecked
  • A flashlight
  • A camera 
  • A small tripod to capture those amazing views very few other people have the privilege of seeing
  • Also snacks…if you’re that kind of person.

2. Some Research of the Places you Want to Hit Beforehand

Thankfully, when we went we chose to go to Detroit City, which is a goldmine in terms of urban Exploration. But, that usually isn’t the case. Unless you live in Detroit, you’re most likely going to have to do some research before heading out on your adventure. When I asked our Urban Exploration Mystery Guide Man for some different resources to do this he simply replied “the internet”.

So…use the internet! Search up various abandoned buildings in your area, and check them out on google maps to see if they’re still there (and potentially scope out some entry points). Its important that you pick a couple of places before heading out, because often times one of the two will be either a) to busy at the time or b) much to difficult to access as a beginner. 

3. A Good Partner 

When beginning to Urban Explore, its always important to have someone there with you in case things go horribly horribly wrong. Not that they will…but if they do, its always great to have someone there to call and ambulance, or pull you out of a sunken in floor. As well, if you want to get into some of the trickier areas it definitely helps to have a friend there to boost you up or lend you a hand. The more common sense they have, and the sneakier they are the better. 



If you could combine Ron Swanson and that guy from Assassins Creed together, that would be perfect.

Want another reason to go Urban Exploring? Check out this Video, its pretty rad. 


What Did I Learn?

Hoooo boy. I learned a few things. I learned that I can fit into windows much smaller then I thought possible. I also learned that its not okay to yell “Fuck Yes” on the top of  skyscraper we probably shouldn’t be on. But, I think the most important thing I took out of this was the potential of adventure and value in every experience.

I will never again view an abandoned building the same. Before, I would see them as unused, and uncapitalized space. Space that was being filled by something old, useless and decrepit. And then you go inside, and begin to look into all the history, time and energy that was put into constructing these places, and your perspective totally shifts.

It shifts to an appreciation of all things built in the past and the present, and the desire to explore and experience what they have to offer. That, and wow is it fun to climb things….

Thanks again, and we’ll talk next week

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