A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from April 11, 2005
Creepers & Infiltrators (urban explorers)
"Creepers" or "infiltrators" are the names for people who like to go into abandoned buildings and subway tunnels and the like, without official authorization. It is not known where the term comes from, but it certainly has been used in New York City.

A novel called Creepers, by David Morrell, was published in the fall of 2005.

Author Description:
"The title refers to the nickname that urban explorers give themselves. For information about "urban explorers," type those words into a Yahoo or Google search. They are history and architecture enthusiasts who infltrate sealed old buildings. Many of those buildings have been abandoned for decades. Entering them is like going into a time capsule. CREEPERS dramatizes what happens when a group of urban explorers breaks into an old hotel in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and gets the fright of their lives. It's very intense and scary." -- David Morrell

Publisher Description:
On a chilly October night, five people gather in a run-down motel on the Jersey shore and prepare to break into The Paragon Hotel. The once-magnificent structure is now boarded-up and slated for demolition.

They are "creepers": urban explorers with a passion for investigating abandoned buildings and their dying secrets. Reporter Frank Balenger joins them to profile this highly illegal activity for the New York Times. But he isn't looking for just a story, and soon after they enter the rat-infested tunnel leading to the hotel, he gets more than he bargained for. Danger, fear, and death, await the creepers in a place ravaged by time and redolent of evil.

As you can see from the above image, I have a new novel coming out in September. "Creepers" is the nickname for urban explorers: history and architecture enthusiasts who share a keen fascination with breaking into abandoned buildings and tunnels and exploring them.

5 December 2003, The Times (London), pg. 14:
The aim of any urban explorer is not to get caught, but those who do often find that professing an interest in urban archaeology or history can convince police or security guards that the escapade was harmless.

The explorers — or creepers are they are sometimes known — have the motto "We don't take anything but photographs and leave nothing but footprints". According to the unwritten rules, agents do not deface sites or steal mementoes but simply record what they see.

6 March 2005, San Francisco Chronicle, pg. M1:
When Julia Solis was 8 years old, she led neighborhood kids to a large drainpipe near the woods in her native Germany.

"I pretended I found a dead body," says Solis, her soft voice on the phone from Brooklyn. "None of them went inside, but it was interesting that people followed me to that point. I'm still taking people to spaces like that. Now, they're coming along."

The spelunking doyenne of the New York urban exploration scene, who once threw a banquet in an abandoned tunnel in Brooklyn, will be at City Lights Bookstore in North Beach on Thursday night to read from her recent book, "New York Underground: The Anatomy of a City" (Routledge Press), thus spreading the gospel of the netherworld. The 251-page tome of text and photography takes readers into a clandestine universe of subway tunnels, crumbling aqueducts, forgotten speakeasies and ruins of former insane asylums -- all places that this redheaded explorer relishes.

"I really enjoy the sense of desolation in so many of these underground spaces," Solis reflects. "It's empty and quiet and very peaceful. You'd never think you're in New York."
For "creepers" like Solis, who is in her 30s, such mysteries lie beneath the surface. When the first edition of Solis' book, published in German, came out in 2002, it drew urban explorers to Berlin from around the world.
Posted by Barry Popik
Workers/People • Monday, April 11, 2005 • Permalink

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