Know the Earth Beneath Your Feet with an App


Flyover Country is a National Science Foundation funded offline mobile app for geoscience outreach and data discovery. “The app analyzes a given flight path and caches relevant map data and points of interest (POI), and displays these data during the flight, without in flight Wi-Fi,” describes its website. It “exposes interactive geologic maps from, fossil localities from and, core sample localities from, Wikipedia articles, offline base maps, and the user’s current GPS determined location, altitude, speed, and heading.”

Source: A New App that Tells You Everything About the Earth Below You  | GOOD

Really nice for urban explorers. You could get at least some history of the area you are photographing. In time the software/ app could include information from local history (from libraries and historical societies) and even urban exploration photos taken from ruins, tunnels and rooftops.

Start Noticing Layers in the Urban Environment

I may be weird but I especially like the little details like painted over numbers and such. Something rusty draws me just as much as something shiny.

We recently did a couple of Thomasson exercises in my class (which focuses on the politics of ‘ruin porn’ and urban exploration), and it was an excellent way to help my students, who are mostly freshman, get to know their campus and start noticing the changes and layers in the urban environment around them. In this post, I’ll be sharing what we discovered and what I learned about using Thomassons as a teaching tool.

Source: Thomassons: Indiana University Edition | Rust Belt Anthro

Roadside Memorials

Explore your own local area along the roadside. Don’t be an idiot with traffic but, when you can, pull over and take a better look at the roadside memorials. What can you find out about them? If you get a name it shouldn’t be too hard to track down the news story online.  You could have your own backyard urban/ rural exploration project.

An ongoing photography project documenting the many Roadside Memorials found along the backroads and highways. Ontario Roadside Memorial Tributes.

Source: Roadside Memorials | Ontario | Freaktography |

Rusting Street Signs

Train your eye to pay attention to broken bricks, peeling paint, untamed gardens, rusty metal… What can you find on your own?

rustysignsSource: Thomas Muther Jr.

I’ve been thinking about exploring our local area. People want to jump into urban exploration. People ask for locations of abandoned sites so they can skip the steps of exploring and finding anything on their own. That’s not urban exploring. Skipping the adventure and waving a photograph to prove you were there… is bland.

I think you can start exploring in your own town, right in your own neighbourhood. Look for old, derelict, ruined and interesting things. Look for history in man made objects. Think about simple things taken for granted, like street signs, mail boxes, doorbells, milestones, and so on.

Shard Yards?

I hadn’t heard the phrase “shard yard” until reading it here (this post from Winnipegger on Facebook). I guess Guildwood Inn could be a shard yard, here in Scarborough, Ontario. What a great place for urban explorers to try to find and photograph! I’ll be looking for shard yards online. They could include remnants from cemeteries as well as demolished buildings.

The remnants of important buildings demolished 40 years ago may see new life following Monday’s approval of a transfer of stewardship to Heritage Winnipeg.The city’s downtown development committee voted in favour of declaring as surplus historical “shards,” or pieces of building construction materials and artwork, and transferring responsibility for them to Heritage Winnipeg.Cindy Tugwell, the group’s executive director, said this plan is a result of two or three years of work between the City of Winnipeg and Heritage Winnipeg.

Source: Old ‘shards’ may see new life with Heritage Winnipeg | Metro

shard yard

Photo from CBC Manitoba on Facebook.