Dark Passage: Scary Archaeology
November 20, 2002 3:26 AM   Subscribe

Frightening Archaeology: Dark Passage is scarier than Infiltration; less cosy than Lost America; and more disturbing than Ruins of Detroit or any other ruination already investigated on Metafilter. In fact, it's probably the extreme incarnation of the thriving world of websites about abandoned buildings, full of spooky mental asylums, echoes of depravity and twisted archaeology - like a spaced-out online version of Brad Anderson's Session 9. Or the real thing. To make matters worse, it also falls disconcertingly into the "What's this all about?" category. Brrrrr.... [QT/WM required for the last link only - please disregard "Purchase" title and enjoy Nine Inch Nails soundtrack. Via Linkfilter.]
posted by Carlos Quevedo (42 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Interesting stuff. I don't know if archaeology is quite the right word - it seems more a connoisseurship of morbid decline. These pictures strike me as strongly reminiscent of the imagery in the work of horror writer Thomas Ligotti, and would make excellent illustrations for them.
posted by misteraitch at 3:49 AM on November 20, 2002

Thanks for a great link. What the hell is this though? Extremely unsettling...

posted by derbs at 4:03 AM on November 20, 2002

Heh, derbs, that's the abandoned rail tunnel in Providence. Way back when, I went to a few parties in there. You're more likely to see bored art students inside than freaky underground denizens. (Come to think of it, that probably *is* an art student)
posted by jeremias at 4:17 AM on November 20, 2002

I really like those sites that deal with decayed buildings or other structures. I just wish they had images in higher resolution. All of them seem to have photos that would do much better if they were high-res so you can actually make out the details.
posted by Mijnkopthee at 4:19 AM on November 20, 2002

Derbs - i can't see anything unusual in the photo?? its an empty underground tunnel.
posted by carfilhiot at 4:20 AM on November 20, 2002

i watched 'grease revisited' last night. erm, i mean, i skipped past it as i was channel hopping. they revisited the locations where it was shot around (whichever town it was shot in), and urban decay had claimed some of the locations outright. quite spooky to see things going backwards, in our forward focused society.
posted by asok at 5:08 AM on November 20, 2002

In some abandoned asylums the sense of confinement is the last thing to leave the premises.

If you don't like the pictures, at least the writing is excellent.

I love this kind of stuff. Thank you, Carlos. Now if only I could find something like it in London, Ontario...

carfilhiot, in the center of the image you can see the outline of a person holding onto a long white-ish pole.
posted by ashbury at 5:11 AM on November 20, 2002

Ah Carlos, you beat me to the punch. I was just revisiting this site the other day and thought it would make a good MeFi post. It's the only site that really freaks me out.

I did something like this at an abandoned convent around Peekskill NY. The story really should start out with, "It was a dark and stormy night..." and end with, "... and the cops never found us." You can get a good sense for the middle part just by looking at those photos.
posted by absquatulate at 5:40 AM on November 20, 2002

Hey Ashbury, the Infiltration post is out of Toronto, maybe that guy can give you some ideas!
posted by Pollomacho at 6:13 AM on November 20, 2002

I was thinking about posting this too. It's full of great stuff.
This site has some great pictures of abandoned buildings too. (There are hundreds of others, search for abandoned buildings or urban exploration or urban speleology...)

ashbury: check out Urban Exploration Canada, there might be something there...

incidentally, my mother used to work here.
posted by Fabulon7 at 6:21 AM on November 20, 2002

For those interested in the neon graveyard photos at Lost America, the photographer in question emailed me a bunch more from his photoshoot. I have them here and here on my site.
posted by machaus at 6:27 AM on November 20, 2002

Great post--I'm surprised it's never been posted here before, or I would have done so myself--but I don't get the "disconcerting" part. As an armchair (read: too busy to actually go out there and do it) UE (urban exploration) enthusiast, I've been following Julia and her cohorts' missions on Dark Passage for a while now. It's just a bunch of people with a hobby, and this is their site. There are a lot more: check out the Urban Exploration Webring.
posted by notclosed at 6:30 AM on November 20, 2002


World Renowned Urban Explorers, well renowned in the sense that TV, magazines, and also bbc radio has done storys and interviews on the cave clan.
posted by Burgatron at 6:32 AM on November 20, 2002

Thank you, pollomacho and fabulon7. With your help and a little exploration of my own, I actually found a group here in London who do this kind of stuff. :)
posted by ashbury at 6:42 AM on November 20, 2002

Actually, Dark Passage and Infiltration.org links were posted before... in January 2001. Probably the statute of limitations is up on that one though. (Or else I found it on another site and my memory fails me.)

Zone-Tour is nifty too. :)
posted by Foosnark at 6:49 AM on November 20, 2002

Ooh. . . the colors. The texture. Urban squalor, detritus, and decay, are my favorite artist.
posted by dgaicun at 6:54 AM on November 20, 2002

Not only was it posted here, but all over memepool too, but I love this stuff so I kept my mouth shut! (not trying to snark, I'm jus' sayin')
posted by Pollomacho at 6:55 AM on November 20, 2002

Derbs - i can't see anything unusual in the photo?? its an empty underground tunnel.

please don't freak me out any more than necessary :)
posted by derbs at 7:06 AM on November 20, 2002

Yeah, I love this stuff too. I don't think I'd want to do it myself but I'm glad people with a camera and a good eye are doing it. ;)
posted by Foosnark at 7:12 AM on November 20, 2002

When I look at the Detroit pics, I just think about all of that wasted space. If the automobile is king, you would think Detriot would be the hottest city in the USA.

The train station would be immaculate if it were renovated.
posted by LinemanBear at 7:44 AM on November 20, 2002

Here are the very interesting posts about abandoned buildings that were mentioned: September 2001 (posted by Skallas) and July 2002 (posted by headspace). I did search (including clicking on most links in comments) and found no mention of Dark Passage (the main link). I did mention the other sites had already been "investigated on Metafilter". I'm sorry it wasn't clear and apologize for not including the links to the main threads in my post. They are both very good. Thanks also for the great discussion!
posted by Carlos Quevedo at 8:10 AM on November 20, 2002

ashbury - does your London crew have a website? I've heard there's a lot of cool stuff in the london underground...
posted by derbs at 8:19 AM on November 20, 2002

Hey! Years ago, I happened on an urban spelunking website that featured the rule of two stupid things: If you're already doing one stupid thing, don't do a second. Like, if you're already breaking and entering, don't have a bag of pot. If you're already wearing a wacky chainsaw clown suit, don't argue with the cop. I thought it was great advice for life. Anybody know what website that was?
posted by lumpley at 8:23 AM on November 20, 2002

I can't believe it - after all these years of wondering whether my leg was being pulled, the main link includes confirmation that there is a tunnel connecting Grand Central Station and the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, which my maternal grandfather used to swear existed but which nobody else had seen or heard of.
posted by JollyWanker at 9:06 AM on November 20, 2002

I love this stuff! God help me, I just love it.
Unfortunately, there aren't that many places in Stockholm to explore. We do have Kymlinge subway station and... Oh, well.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 9:12 AM on November 20, 2002

lumpley - no, but I love it!

JollyWanker - anecdotal confirmation. No telling whether the rail worker was pulling their legs, or whether his own had been pulled. Still, that's my favorite part of the site, after reading Brennan's cutting critique of Jennifer Toth's The Mole People.

By the way, anyone who's interested in this sort of thing will probably love the rest of Brennan's site about the abandoned subway stations in New York City (probably posted at MeFi at some point).
posted by Songdog at 9:17 AM on November 20, 2002

New York City folks may also appreciate Brennan's alternate map (via this page) of rail and ferry transit in the Metro NYC area.
posted by Songdog at 9:20 AM on November 20, 2002

Songdog: Heh, that map has been my wallpaper for a couple of months now.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 9:22 AM on November 20, 2002

ashbury - does your London crew have a website? I've heard there's a lot of cool stuff in the london underground...

Sorry derbs, the London that I'm in is in Canada--Ontario, to be precise, and they do have a website: UEL. There's no subway here, unfortunately, but there are tons of old buildings and hospitals, a couple of dams, sewers galore, etc. Maybe I'll actually get off my butt, buy myself a maglite and give these guys a call.
posted by ashbury at 10:18 AM on November 20, 2002

Here's another another site worth checking out. My personal favorite is the boatyard;
I also found that this unassuming photograph was by far the most disturbing of the lot.
posted by QuestionableSwami at 11:50 AM on November 20, 2002

Does anybody do this in the Bay Area?
posted by hammurderer at 11:54 AM on November 20, 2002

songdog: anecdotal confirmation. No telling whether the rail worker was pulling their legs, or whether his own had been pulled.

Au contraire! At the very end of the page, they say:
Well, we hadn't found the mysterious tunnel, but we had gotten much more than we expected; we were very happy as we thanked him and walked up to the platform in front of the stairs. Just as we began to climb, the worker called to us.

"Oh, by the way," he said, "this right here was the entrance FDR used to take when he wanted his own access from the Waldorf Hotel."

It was a great night.

We walked up, opened the door at the end of a small passageway and walked out of the Waldorf Astoria onto the street.
Unless the authors are out-and-out lying, they've exited Grand Central Station through the lobby of the Waldorf-Astoria (albeit, through some really creepy, now rat-infested tunnels...).
posted by JollyWanker at 11:57 AM on November 20, 2002

Hey, wow. I know the guy who does Infiltration, the zine, and infiltration.org, the website.

The zine's worth it—send him a couple of bucks and see.

PO Box 13
Toronto, ON, M6H 4E1

(Hi, Jeff)
posted by KiloHeavy at 12:36 PM on November 20, 2002

I grew up on an island off the coast of Maine (near Portland.) Portland used to be a major port, and in WWII was the headquarters of the North Atlantic Destroyer Fleet and a jumping off point for convoys. There are mutliple deserted fortress around the harbor, on the mainland and islands, ranging in age from the post-revolutionary period right up through the late 1940s. One of my favorite activities as a kid (and still is now when I go back) was to explore the mazes of bunkers and tunnels on almost every island. So go several stories above and below ground. So much fun. And you have the added fun in these of pretending you're fighting someone--yeah!
posted by pjgulliver at 12:42 PM on November 20, 2002

Session 9 = verryyy creepy;
posted by trillion at 12:58 PM on November 20, 2002

Isn't anyone afraid of the C.H.U.D.s (TM)?
posted by Pollomacho at 1:15 PM on November 20, 2002

Canabalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers? No, I'm just afraid of Daniel Stern.
posted by pjgulliver at 1:17 PM on November 20, 2002


World Renowned Urban Explorers, well renowned in the sense that TV, magazines, and also bbc radio has done storys and interviews on the cave clan.

I might add a corollary to Australia's Cave Clan is the Russia-based Moscow Diggers. Russia seems to be one of the most rewarding places to perform this kind of urban exploration, because of years and years of secretive and corrupt government machinations.

'Hey, bored Muscovite youth: How many Czarist and Stalinist underground mass graves can you discover?'.

A good article about Moscow Diggin' here. And here's a page with a series of related links.
posted by dgaicun at 1:27 PM on November 20, 2002

JollyWanker: You're right - I somehow missed the obvious fact that they did exit by the Waldorf. I was questioning the accuracy of the railworker's statements, not that of the author (although as the Toth example demonstrates, that should probably be scrutinized as well - I wonder whether Brennan has seen this?)
posted by Songdog at 1:34 PM on November 20, 2002

This has always been a favorite site of mine for this business!
posted by Pollomacho at 1:46 PM on November 20, 2002

And who could forget one of the first websites about exploring abandoned sites: the Abandoned Missile Silo? The site's a throwback to the golden days of the web. It's kinda cool how it hasn't changed since early 1996.
posted by zsazsa at 5:45 PM on November 20, 2002

Also worth watching is the movie Dark Days - the story of a group of homeless people living in a railroad tunnel beneath NYC. It's out on video/DVD now.
posted by zsazsa at 5:48 PM on November 20, 2002

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