BASE Jumpers Prepared for Anything
In late September, Cincinnati police charged four men with criminal trespassing -- a fourth-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one month in jail and a $250 fine -- after security guards caught them on the roof of the downtown Millennium Hotel wearing parachutes. The four men triggered an alarm shortly after midnight when they went through a door that went to the roof. The four avid Building Antenna Span Earth (BASE) jumpers -- one of whom, Dr. Joseph Weber, had been among those who jumped from Malaysia's 1,483-foot-tall Petronas Towers, breaking the record for the tallest BASE jump ever -- pleaded innocent, in spite of the circumstances. When accused of planning to jump from the roof of the hotel, Weber countered with the entirely reasonable explanation "We wore our rigs in case we fell when we were looking over."
Anatomie Einer Stadt
In September, German publisher Ch.Books released the latest in a series of books on the spaces beneath some of the world's great cities, _New York Underground: Anatomie Einer Stadt_. The book, written in German by Julia Solis, the mastermind behind Dark Passage (http://www.darkpassage.com) and the recently launched Ars Subterranea (http://www.creativepreservation.org/event.htm), features 100 colour and black and white photos and offers a history of of the city's subterranean utilities and tunnels. An English translation is in the works. Both ordering information and some sample pictures can be found online at New York Underground (http://www.underground-ny.com).
Manhole Cries "Help Me"
A man was pulled out through a manhole after becoming stuck in a storm drain system in Northampton, Massachusetts early ths fall. Witness Bruce Christman had just pulled into a parking lot on Armory Street when he heard a voice coming from a grate on the ground saying, "Help me. Help me. I'm stuck. Get me out of here." Christmas enlisted the help of an off-duty state trooper, and together the two used a crowbar to pry open a manhole and pull a mud-covered and terrified 33-year-old named Nathaniel Foss out of the drain. Cold but injured, Foss explained to police that he was a spelunker. He faced no charges.
The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory is building a new subway tunnel for subatomic particles under its 6,800-acre site in Batavia, Illinois. Work crews have bored and blasted about 130,000 cubic yards of rock to carve out a tunnel and two caverns under the lab. The new $71-million project is designed to propel neutrinos past a Fermilab detector and through the earth to a larger detector about 450 miles away at the bottom of a former iron mine in northern Minnesota.
Abandoned Building Found in Detroit
The municipal government of Detroit has decided to try to tear down the abandoned Statler Hilton hotel. The city is currently requesting $5 million from the state to cover the cost of tearing down the historic 18-storey structure, in spite of the fact that the state has previously invested $4.4 million in cleaning up the site and making it structurally sound, AND despite the city's recent success in arranging to sell the abandoned Book-Cadillac hotel to the Marriott chain. If demolished, the Statler would be the largest building demolished in downtown Detroit since the J.L. Hudson store on Woodward Avenue was brought down with 2,728 pounds of explosives in October 1998. City officials wish to demolish the hotel because they believe it to be an "eyesore" -- no word yet on similar plans for the MGM Grand Casino.
Williamson's Tunnels Opened
A long-term goal of Liverpool's Friends of Williamson's Tunnels was realized with the public opening of a segment of the tunnels in September, under the name Williamson Tunnels Heritage Centre. The area of the tunnels known as the Stables is only a small component of the entire system, which was hollowed out by eccentric Liverpool millionaire Joseph Williamson in the early 19th century. Plans are being drawn up for the excavation of other segments of the elaborate system. For more information about the tunnels, see http://www.williamsontunnels.com/ .
Suspicious Hobbies I
In July, two men were detained and questioned after taking photographs of a Philadelphia oil refinery from a nearby bridge. The two amateur photographers were taking pictures at sunset when five squad cars and a helicopter arrived, and were subsequently questioned and held for around four hours without being charged with any crime, and were not permitted to contact a lawyer in spite of repeated requests to do so. Though one of the officers on the scene informed the men that it was illegal to take photographs of an oil refinery because of "what's going on in this country", Stefan Presser of the ACLU wrote to the authorities involved: "As I am unaware of any federal, state or local provision which makes it illegal to photograph oil refineries, I would ask that you supply me with the authority to which these officers referred."
Suspicious Hobbies II
In mid-October, the FBI revealed that it had reports that Al Qaeda might be targetting railroads. In the month since that announcement, local police forces and train crews have been instructed to look out for "suspicious characters asking detailed questions about railroad operations, taking notes and taking pictures of trains" -- a perfect description of a typical harmless railfan. Though Federal Railroad Administrator Alan Rutter admits that the extremely vigilant railfan network could be "a real value" in noticing any actual suspicious activity, so far there has been no move to enlist the help of amateurs. Instead, significant numbers of railfans have been questioned and searched by police. While some railfans are now avoiding trespassing on railroad property at all, others are merely pursuing the activity in a more clandestine fashion. No word yet on whether comic book nerds will be profiled also.
New With Us
Infiltration #19, the "Houses of the Holy" issue, is the most recent issue of the print version of Infiltration. This longest-issue-ever contains exciting stories of explorations in, under and on top of churches in Lansing, Toronto, Paris and Bangkok. You can get a copy by sending $3 (US/CDN) cash to PO Box 13, Station E, Toronto, ON, M6H 4E1, Canada.
Both Infiltration.org (http://www.infiltration.org) and Viewing Hole Gallery (http://www.kittyempire.org/viewy/) have recently undergone major redesigns, with new features on both sites, including Viewing Hole Gallery's goodbye tribute to the College Wing of Toronto General Hospital, scheduled for demolition later this month, and Infiltration.org's look back at the early years of the Sheppard Subway line, scheduled to open to the public on 24 November.
The Urban Exploration Ring currently features 142 member sites and accomodates more than 600 visitors a day, making it the seventh most popular ring handled by Webring. If you run an urban exploration site and aren't in the ring, please feel free to sign up at http://e.webring.com/wrman?ring=draining&addsite !
Call for Submissions
As always, Infilnews welcomes and encourages your contributions. Please forward any articles of interest in the areas of exploration, construction, infrastructure, infiltration, and so forth, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Infiltration is encouraging submissions for our upcoming Secret Societies issue. If you've got any good letters or tales relating to any of those subjects, please please email them to email@example.com and/or firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
Sign up for Infilnews by e-mail.