Urban Exploration Commandos
May 24, 2005 8:45 PM   Subscribe

Action Squad – Urban Adventurers
"In a nutshell, Action Squad explores. This generally occurs late at night, to aid in avoiding other people, particularly those with badges and funny blue uniforms. We climb buildings, sneak into factories, crawl through all kinds of tunnels, spelunk old brewery caves, poke around abandoned buildings, and run across the rooftops."
Missions of the Action Squad are fully documented with descriptions, photographs (historical & intraoperative) and sometimes maps but always with a sense of wonder at the urban flotsam they enjoy exploring.
This is my particular favourite but poke around, there's a fair bit in this gem of a site worth exploring from the armchair. [via]
posted by peacay (27 comments total)
Hamm's! "From the land of sky blue waaaters..."
posted by SisterHavana at 9:38 PM on May 24, 2005

Amazing! I wish I had known of such a group when I was a teenager.

Sometimes we get in full gear, consult maps, make backup plans. . .

I think they are going to wind up getting shot. Midnight hours and trespassing = bad news. Someday they will stumble across a crime-in-progress at 330am and a police officer responding to a report of an armed intruder, or a robbery that just occurred, is going to see one of them in their "full gear".
posted by mlis at 9:44 PM on May 24, 2005

Is this all Minneapolis?

I'm disappointed. Although they went to their very own mental hospital, I was hoping they'd have gone to the Byberry Hospital in my area. Back in high school this one guy I was friends with used to plan out his various trips to forbidden places, and the Byberry trip was at least a monthly action on his part.

The webring that the site links to is worth a look too.
posted by tozturk at 9:51 PM on May 24, 2005

While not as straight-laced as the rest of their mission reports, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the Bridge to Dimension Zed.
posted by damn yankee at 10:05 PM on May 24, 2005

I'm with you SisterHavana!

The first thing I thought of was from when I was a little kid, and they used to show those tacky commercials on TV with the bad "Injun" sound track.

... comes the beer refreshing ... comes the beer refreshing, HAMMMMMMMMMS.

Who the hell came up with that ad campaign, Durwood Stevens?
posted by Relay at 10:09 PM on May 24, 2005

Damn, I need to get a practice lock for my lockpick set so I can explore my college town's abandoned factories.
posted by NickDouglas at 10:16 PM on May 24, 2005

I love this stuff. I've been to one or two places like this in my area, but none of my trips were as elaborate or well planned as theirs. And with the exception of maybe one building, they were all sites that had been explored and documented on sites like Forgotten NY and Weird NJ, not to mention a TV show on Cable Access.
posted by Venadium at 11:03 PM on May 24, 2005

This is why, unlike a hospital, military complex, or other multi-building site, it has proven essentially impossible to find new uses for the Brewery's buildings.

Art colony. Artists like nooks and crannies and weird spaces. Los Angeles has a brewery-turned-art colony that's quite successful and well populated.

Barring that, I'd be willing to accept a donation of just such a property. I could build a rambling, organic, sprawling indoor skatepark in it, have parties, live in it, start a huge garden, and maybe even brew some beer.

NickDouglas: One unspoken (but often broken) rule of urban structure spelunking - at the very least for active sites - is to not enter locked spaces. One, it can be dangerous as fuck*. Two, it pisses people off. Tangentially: Three, you're going to want to practice on more than one kind of lock. If it's a good facility - chances are pretty good you're not dealing with easy-to-pick residential locksets. True security locks like Medeco locks are about as close to totally unpickable as is possible.

(*Examples: There's tons of dangerous stuff in both active and inactive structures. Giant, man-eating squirrel cage fans that activate without warning. Steam pipes. Asbestos. Unsafe and/or failing structures. Pump or machine rooms that offer dangers in either mechanical or extreme noise forms. Universities can also have radiological, biological, chemical, cryogenic or steam/heat hazards. I could go on. Err, no, I've never gone urban spelunking, why do you ask? *fidgets nervously with headlamp*)
posted by loquacious at 11:03 PM on May 24, 2005

Meh. I'm in the boonies. Small town called Grove City. Best building in town is protected by a padlock.

Okay, not literally.
posted by NickDouglas at 11:30 PM on May 24, 2005

Nothing quite sez Home like an abandoned building! this is brilliant Thanks
posted by RecordBrother at 12:05 AM on May 25, 2005

Damn, at work Websense is saying that this is an "illegal or questionable" website.

posted by JGreyNemo at 12:13 AM on May 25, 2005

See? Damn terrorists.
posted by loquacious at 1:17 AM on May 25, 2005

Awesome post. The writer's style is delightful. I'm reading of Stahlman's Brewery Cellar mission. I love this kind of shite!

I entered a few places myself, in my very younger days (pre-teens). Nothing so daring as a sewer, but some abandoned houses and non-abandoned large buildings I was able to enter without having to be destructive. I wasn't out to harm anything.

What is this thing that makes people drawn to such places? Once I thought of it as simply being nosey, but I learned its not that. My small town lacked any large abandoned buildings, but I learned there was greater attraction to such places once I saw the larger world. But by then, other things interested me more (sex!).
posted by Goofyy at 3:33 AM on May 25, 2005

Dead baby jokes fight back?

A personal favourite.

Tozturk, it's also St. Paul.
posted by taursir at 5:31 AM on May 25, 2005

Great post. I wish the pictures would load, maybe the server is swamped.
posted by OmieWise at 6:02 AM on May 25, 2005

I've always preferred rooftops, since you can travel across multiple buildings and heights when they're connected. I once interrupted someone having tea in their rooftop garden, and they were kind enough to offer me some.
posted by PantsOfSCIENCE at 6:12 AM on May 25, 2005

Personally, I much prefer this site.
posted by vernondalhart at 7:01 AM on May 25, 2005

I spent many happy hours in the abandoned Starr Piano Factory in Richmond Indiana, now mostly demolished. Knowing that King Oliver, Bix Beiderdecke, Louis Armstrong and others had recorded there added to its allure, but just climbing up and down rusty ladders and absorbing the atmosphere and the views were pure ecstasy for me in those days.

Once I created some art in the boiler room by cleaning up a large area, scraping off a couple of inches of grime in a large, square space and going crazy with a couple cans of paint. Then I heard "the truck" drive up. (This was "private property," though it had been abandoned for many decades.)

I looked out through a crack in the door and saw a man who, leaving his shotgun in his car, walked up to the doorway, and slid it open. By this time I was hiding behind a boiler in the next room. He just stood there and looked. I'm still wondering what he thought. It was not the kind of vandalism he was used to seeing.
posted by kozad at 7:37 AM on May 25, 2005

See also the Urban Explorer's Network, for general resources and advice.
posted by meditative_zebra at 7:52 AM on May 25, 2005

Nice post, peacay. There was a zine of urban exploration back in the early '00s, but I can't recall the name. I'll see if I can dig up an issue.
posted by shoepal at 8:12 AM on May 25, 2005

There was a zine of urban exploration back in the early '00s, but I can't recall the name.

posted by DieHipsterDie at 8:19 AM on May 25, 2005

posted by DieHipsterDie at 8:20 AM on May 25, 2005

i wonder if the fact that their symbol resembles an anarchist symbol was intentional.
posted by poweredbybeard at 10:22 AM on May 25, 2005

I'm generally a sucker for such sites and wouldn't care if it was just scrawly writing and a bunch of photos. This site is pretty nice in giving histories, background and old tyme photos of the sites they infiltrate.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 2:42 PM on May 25, 2005

poweredbybeard: One of their members calls himself "Danarchy." I'd say it was intentional.
posted by ScottUltra at 10:22 AM on May 26, 2005

This is the one I participate in. We have a yahoo group if any of you are interested. Less look, more do.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 2:52 PM on May 26, 2005

Link to another mefi urban exploration post which has a ton of links in it.
posted by peacay at 10:40 AM on June 5, 2005

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