One of the goals of Urban Exploration Mag is to encourage newcomers to the hobby to get started. This page can be used as a jumping off point. We will provide links to online shops where necessary equipment can be bought, guides, tips on how to explore, links to some awesome Flickr streams, links to different online communities, and links to help with research. This list is not meant to be all inclusive, but a good introduction to the world of UrbEx.
You’ll want to get to know your city and its history. Every single urbex location has a history. Often it is beginning with that story that leads you to the most amazing finds.
Research & Communities
- Milwaukee Historical Society
- UWM Archives
- Milwaukee County Automated Mapping and Land Information System (MCAMLIS)
- Doors Open MKE
- Milwaukee Riverkeeper
- Urban Exploration on Reddit
- Milwaukee Property Look Up
Get to know your city and its history.
Every single urbex location has a history. Often it is beginning with that story that leads you to the most amazing finds. The Milwaukee Historical Society, UWM Archives, Doors Open Milwaukee, and Milwaukee Riverkeeper are all great sources to learn about local history.
Get a good hold of the equipment you’ll need to explore.
At a minimum, all locations require boots, 5 flashlights (read why here: ), jeans or long pants, and your phone. Every location has some hazard to your feet, whether it’s nails, or glass, or broken floorboards, wearing boots is the safe bet. These nails or glass or broken floorboards can also damage your shins, so wear long pants or jeans to prevent leg injuries. Your phone is required to call for help if needed, and to use for communication if you’re in two groups that split up.
Going to locations alone is frowned upon because of the general risks associated with exploring. Finding people or groups to explore with is pretty easy, too, Facebook, UER, Reddit, and other online communities provide a great portal to meet people who dig the same things you do.
Don’t just go to a location with the intention of walking around. Know what you’re going to do there, how you’re going to get in, how long you’ll be there, where all the exits are, where all the entrances are, what all the risks are, and how you’re going to leave. Get comfortable enough with your group or friends to know when to leave. Communicate with the people who frequent the same locations you do. I remember a very scary encounter in a drain in which my group ran into another. The first 20 minutes of hearing the other group felt like a scary eternity. I was prepared to fight, only to learn that it was my good friend and his group doing the same thing I was. Communicate!
Do your research.
I want to give a quick overview of the best research tools.
Milwaukee Historical Society
The Milwaukee Historical Society is a great tool that can provide manuscripts, photos, and other information on locations, as well as events and notable history. It’s a great tool to use if you’re looking for history on a location.
The UWM Archives is a great site that can provide a lot of information. It’s a lot to explain that can only be fully understood by using the tools provided. All types of information can be found here that may be relevant to historical aspects as well as current information that can be used to gain useful insight to a location.
Milwaukee County Automated Mapping and Land Information System is a valuable resource to learn about the physical characteristics of a location. Hills, tunnels, utility lines, and other land information can be useful when trying to decide the best way to access a location.
Urban Exploration Resource is a great tool that includes a location database, forums, photos, and maps. Though it is a little dated, it is still quite active, and can be used to facilitate group outings, learn about a location from people who have been there, find inspiration, and talk with others about the hobby.
The Milwaukee Assessments website can be used to learn about the activity at a location, the owners, and certain building features. It can provide a quick overview without leaving the comfort of your desk. I most often use this tool to find out how active a location is and sometimes can learn about risks associated with a building before having to go to a location. This is especially useful when trying to learn about a place that is difficult to get to or sketchy looking.
In addition to what is listed above, there are other resources to further benefit your UrbEx-ing