Orangutans Love Trespassers
On 12 January, a young boy named Goh Beng Hooi decided to take a peek into a small urban zoo in the Malaysian city of Jalan Gudwara. Everything was going well when suddenly he was jacked by the zoo's resident orangutan. The evil ape, known only as Madu, bit deeply into the foot of the young explorer, who was subsequently evacuated to Penang Hospital for an operation.
In an interview from his hospital bed, the intrepid Beng Hooi explained: "The perimeter fencing surrounding the cage where the orangutan was kept was not locked and I decided to go in and take a closer look. However, the orangutan suddenly grabbed hold of my left leg before sinking her teeth into my foot." Beng Hooi added that the primate refused to let go of his bloodied foot and one of his friends had to hit her mouth with a stick to force her to free him.
Drugged Man Likes Empty Planes
On 7 January, a drugged man named Richard Moore managed to wander past airport security at Florida's St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport and board an empty jetliner.
A mechanic said he followed Moore into the plane, where he found him sitting in a seat in the 10th row. Moore told deputies he had been taking an anti-anxiety drug that makes him black out and walk in his sleep. But he also told deputies he "wanted to take a plane ride," according to an arrest affidavit. Moore faces a trespassing charge; the Transportation Security Administration is investigating.
Louisvillians Like Old Porn Buildings
On 7 January, a handful of protesters from a group called Saving the City picketed along a downtown Louisville, Kentucky block that is slated for demolition. The group opposes the planned demolition of four century-old buildings (in which several pornocentric businesses operate) to make room for a new 634-room luxury Marriott Hotel. The buildings, dubbed the "porn block", date from the 1880s and are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Brendan Klayko, the 19-year-old founder of Saving the City, noted that entire blocks of downtown Louisville have been eradicated since the 1970s to build the Kentucky International Convention Center, the Hyatt Regency Louisville hotel and several other large projects. Klayko emphasized that the protesters don't support the pornography vendors that operate on the block, but believe the buildings in which they lease space are worth saving.
The new Marriott hotel is expected to spur tourism and convention business, and plans to break ground in March.
On 10 February, anyone hanging around in the sewers under Louisville, Kentucky was probably very surprised by the sudden appearance of around 1,800 gallons of tequila. Workers at the Brown-Forman Distillery accidentally pumped the highly flammable 110-proof tequila into a tank that was already full, causing it to overflow into the city's sewer system. Firefighters called to the scene pumped a 6,000-gallon chaser of water into the sewer to dilute the tequila.
New Toys for New York
New York City's Tappan Zee Bridge, the state Thruway's seven-lane link to the city, was completed 47 years ago, and is rapidly approaching the end of its projected 50-year lifespan. The state's Thruway Authority has begun to consider plans to replace, repair or enlarge the 3.1-mile bridge.
The current bridge is primarily supported by wooden pilings atop buoyant underwater concrete caissons, and may thus be unable to cope with rapidly increasing traffic loads within a few years. Some of the possible ideas on how to replace the bridge include building a new bridge with room for commuter or light-rail trains, boring a new tunnel beneath the Hudson River, or even engineering an immersed-tube tunnel, to be lowered into place in a trench at the bottom of the river and covered with gravel. The plan may also involve combinations of bridges and tunnels connected at man-made islands, as used on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel connecting Maryland and Virginia.
The Thruway Authority plans to hem and haw for the next three years before it starts actually designing the new crossing in 2006. Officials estimated that the new project will cost between $1.1 and $1.5 billion dollars, and managed to keep straight faces while doing so.
Big Dig Almost Dug!
Drivers heading to Logan Airport are now able to use a new tunnel under the Fort Port Channel to bypass downtown Boston. The new tunnel was one of the more difficult sections of the Big Dig project, particularly after engineers realized that simply tunneling underneath the Amtrak rail lines at the end of the Massachusetts Turnpike could cause a collapse. Project engineers overcame the problem by designing a massive concrete box to carry traffic while simultaneously supporting the rail lines. In the end, the connection cost about $6.5 billion of the Big Dig's $14.6 billion price tag.
Surveillance technology in the new tunnel will allow workers to pinpoint problems in the tunnel, using sensors and cameras. The tunnel is equipped with dozens of video cameras that allow operators to view every portion of the underground roadway. The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority is now working on completing work on fans, ventilation buildings, electrical connections and finishing.
"This is the benchmark project in this country for urban construction," said Turnpike chairman Matthew Amorello. How sadly true.
The Hungry Earth
On 14 January, a huge hole opened up on a major thoroughfare in suburban Athens, Greece, swallowing a car and its driver. The ground collapsed over a tunnel that is part of an extension of the Athens subway, and expanded into a 12-metre-deep hole. The hole ripped through water lines and drainage pipes and swallowed portions of two houses. The driver of the car was rescued by members of the fire department, and found to be only slightly injured.
"When such a major project is carried out in an inhabited area like Athens, with ground that has a lot of special features through its morphology or antiquities, it is not incredible that such incidents should occur," Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou said.
This is the third major collapse associated with the extension of Athens' new subway line, which is being rush-built in order to accommodate the 2004 Olympics.
The Hungry Earth II: The Hungrier Earth
On 9 February, an immense hole opened up in an area of east London near a planned Channel Tunnel Rail Link. The 60-foot-wide hole may have been caused by the disturbance of 150-year-old wells in the area during the excavation of 25-foot-wide, 70-foot-deep tunnels by the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.
Seven hundred tonnes of concrete have been poured into the hole, and work on the new tunnel has been suspended indefinitely. Company spokesman Richard Jones said, "We knew of the wells, but we didn't expect them to interfere with the tunnel.... We are sorry for all the inconvenience, and we hope that all residents will be back in their homes as soon as possible."
Atlanta Sewer Tunnel Open For Exploration
The boring of Atlanta's new Chattahoochee Tunnel has been completed. The 9.5-mile long wastewater tunnel has been under construction since 2001, and is scheduled for completion in 2004. The next phase of the project consists of lining most of the tunnel with concrete. The tunnel begins at an Elizabeth Lane site off Atlanta Road.
New Edmonton LRT
Edmonton's LRT system is about to enjoy a minor new expansion. The light-rail train system will be extended 300 metres from an underground tunnel to a new ground-level station across the street from the University of Alberta Hospital.
The first signs of construction popped up on the university campus in early February, when a chain-link fence was erected in the spot where the LRT will burst forth from the ground. Digging is scheduled to begin in March, with major excavation taking place near the corner of 114th Street and 87th Avenue. A huge tunnelling machine from Singapore will take anywhere from a year to 18 months to finish the job. The new station is expected to be opened by March 2006.
The project is the first leg of a larger $600-million, eight-kilometre-long southern extension, which is slated to go to the Heritage Mall within a decade.
Ferries for Sale
British Columbia's fast ferries, three high-speed aluminum catamarans that cost the BC government nearly half a billion dollars, are being put up for international auction. Since first being put into service in 1999, the ferries have been plagued with engine breakdowns and numerous mechanical glitches, and were criticized for being too small to accommodate many commercial vehicles.
Officials believe that the fast ferries will fetch little more than their scrap value.
The ferries are currently docked at Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal.
The Future of Intrusion Detection
Inspired by watching spiders patrol their webs, professor David C. Swanson is developing a new sort of intrusion detection system. The new system, dubbed Acoustic Perimeter Intrusion Detection System (APIDS), uses regular metal wire attached to fences around a perimeter, connected to one or more computers, as a sensing device. As the fence wobbles and vibrates from an intruder climbing, cutting or digging under it, the wires transmit these vibrations to a sensor called a geophone, which converts the vibrations to a voltage that is digitized by the computer.
Some access prevention experts believe Swanson's technology has a few key advantages over existing systems, including pressure sensors embedded in the ground, mounted body-heat sensors and optical beams that trigger an alarm when something breaks their path, since all of these existing systems have at least some gaps in their coverage, and rely on the assumption that no intruder will be able to figure out where all the gaps are. The Swanson's system may also be able to more accurately pinpoint the point of intrusion to within 25 to 50 feet. Swanson is considering developing ways to allow a perfected APIDS to remotely trigger nonlethal tools, such as nets or foam, to slow the intruders until guards arrive on the scene.
Security contractor ECSI International Inc. has licensed the APIDS technology and plans to market it next year. Kolesar expects to see "fairly large numbers" of APIDS systems installed over the next decade.
Myrtle Beach Fakes Biohazard
Questioned by locals with health concerns, developers in Myrtle Beach explained that when they posted numerous large warnings about a site being a biological hazard they were just kidding.
"We needed to keep people off that property," said George Gregory, attorney for developer Burroughs & Chapin Co. Inc., which installed the signs on a 160-acre tract near the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base.
The false biohazard warnings were put in place to discourage trespassers in spite of the fact that site does not pose any real hazard, biological or otherwise. The only way potential trespassers might come to injury would be by climbing over the fence and drinking the area's groundwater each day over a span of several years.
"Those signs were the first that were commercially available," Gregory said.
A local resident said he has been unable to sell his home because a biohazard sign can be seen just across his property line. Gregory said B&C would consider removing that sign.
Self-Appointed Mountain Lords Upset By Lack of Tribute From Visiting Mortals
The people who claim that they own BC's Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains have begun cracking down on people who attempt to ski or snowboard on "their" mountains without paying.
Annoyed by a lack of tribute from people visiting the mountains without valid passes, the people, who somehow feel that a private corporation can actually possess a natural geographical feature, have begun to make random spot checks at various points on the mountains.
"It's a program we are developing as we, unfortunately, discover more and more people being blatant about not paying on the mountain," said Steve McFadden, a deputy of the alleged "owners" of the two large chunks of the province's natural heritage.
So far, the self-appointed mountain lords are fining interlopers instead of smiting them.
You Can't Keep a Bad Street Down
The ridiculously fortunate residents of Edinburgh are about to gain access to yet another large underground tunnel. An underground street that was buried and built over more than 250 years ago has been reopened.
The street, called Mary King's Close, was left abandoned after the city council rounded up some 400 plague victims and sealed them in to die in 1645. Although people moved back into the neighbourhood afterwards, the houses were eventually abandoned due to persistent rumours of ghost sightings, probably caused by marsh gas. The lower storeys of the area were preserved underground when the City Chambers building was erected on top in the 1750s. Workers recently knocked a hole in the floor of the city council's headquarters to allow easy access to the underground labyrinth of the main street and its many interconnecting rooms. While underground, the heat pipes of the City Chambers are suspended high above the main street.
Small groups of visitors have been able to tour the hidden streets in the area called Mary King's Close previously, but the decision to develop the area into a permanent attraction is recent. The developers intend to make the area into a historical museum of sorts, featuring a recreation of poor house, a town house and a death-bed scene of a plague-infected family. (Thanks to Mats Björklund for this tip.)
Suffolk County Eyes Asylum
More than 400 employees of Long Island's Suffolk County may be become the latest residents of the currently abandoned Kings Park Psychiatric Center, first established as "Kings County Farm" in 1885. The county is currently attempting to persuade the state to turn over Building 15 and eight acres of land for the county's use, and to allow the county to issue bonds to pay for an estimated $25 million in renovations needed to convert the asylum into office space. The county could save significant property rental fees by moving into the empty building; for its part, the town of Kings Park is eager to see the county government move in, as the local economy was stifled by the gradual abandonment of the hospital during the 1980s, and crippled by its final closing in 1996.
For pictures and details about the potential new government offices, visit Urbanlens' page on Kings Park Psychiatric Center (http://www.urbanlens.com/files/pc/pc_1.html). You can also check out the less exploration-friendly accounts at Kings Park Psychiatric Center: A Documentation (http://go.to/kppc).
Jinx On Hold
New York-based group Jinx has temporarily renewed its moratorium against urban exploration following suggestions that Americans in general, and New Yorkers in particular, should be in a heightened state of alert due to certain unnamed government officials working for certain undivulged agencies having perhaps heard rumours of alleged hints that there may or may not have been certain unspecified possible hints of terrorist activity somewhere.
"The police and the military are actively securing the infrastructure," says a recent memo found on Jinx's site. "Grand Central Terminal, a prime urban exploration target, is now patrolled by National Guardsmen with bomb-sniffing dogs. These patrols routinely question suspicious-looking persons, including the homeless. No one is more suspicious-looking than a Jinx agent in uniform, with his sunglasses on, indoors, at night. Police in the subways are at high alert. They are carrying oxygen-level monitors, chemical and radiation detectors, and gas masks. They're engaged in aggressive reconnaissance."
The fear hasn't cancelled all Jinx activities, of course: the Jinx Athenaeum Society last met on 5 March, when Jinx agent and Undercity.org proprietor Steve Duncan drew on his explorations to lecture on the New York Water System. For information on the next meeting of the Jinx Athenaeum Society, visit the Jinx site .
At the end of March, Ars Subterranea, Julia Solis' New York-based creative preservation organization, will launch the arts season with a film extravaganza focusing on an underground theme. Two different film programs with musical accompaniment will be presented on the evenings of 29 and 30 March in the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel (Atlantic and Court, Brooklyn). There will be an admission charge of $18 each evening to cover seating, bathrooms (port-a-potties), and a reception after each showing. For information, visit the Ars Subterranea site (http://www.creativepreservation.org).
Fora! Fora! Fora!
Whereas once discussion of urban exploration was confined to a couple of e-mail lists and newsgroups, explorers have been talking over the web since August 2000. At that time, Mr. Sable created a public MSN group and invited members of the Urban Exploration Ring to sign up in order to exchange messages, links and photos. The MSN group, called "Urban Explorers" , quickly grew to include a membership of more than 100 explorers from Australia, Canada, the UK, the USA, Ireland, France and Holland. An Australian MSN group, UEA, also had considerable success, until someone complained and Microsoft shut the group down. Similarly fragile groups were formed through Yahoo.
In the past year or so web-based message boards have begun to spring up on UE websites, providing independent alternatives to the services of Microsoft and Yahoo. On these boards, local urban explorers and visitors from around the world congregate to boast, flame each other, spoil local sites by giving away too many details, ruin upcoming missions by discussing them in advance, answer stupid questions from predatory mainstream reporters and incognito security personnel, and, occasionally, talk about ideas and issues related to urban exploration.
Visit your neighbours! Here are some of the sites with their own English-language UE discussion groups:
Chicago Urban Exploration (Illinois)
CKZone International Forum (France)
Dark Access (Britain)
Dead Places (Utah)
Insane Bunkers (Rhode Island)
Institute for Urban Exploration (California)
Jinx (New York)
Project Z (Britain)
Urban Exploration Alberta (Alberta)
Urban Exploration Resource (Canada)
Links to French, German, Russian and Japanese language UE forums can be found on Infiltration .
Call for Zine Submissions
Infiltration is encouraging submissions for our upcoming Stadia issue. If you've got any good letters or tales relating to infiltrating a stadium of some sort, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com. Thank you!
Infiltration #20, the "Twin Cities Spectacular", is the most recent issue of the print version of Infiltration. This issue, released just days ago, features articles from the depths of Minneapolis-St. Paul by trailblazing locals such as Danarchy, Jim Hollison, Max Action and Greg Brick. The 32-page issue includes numerous photographs and firsthand accounts the discovery of two of the world's most luscious underground sites, the St. Paul Labyrinth and the Old Bank Cave. You can get a copy by sending $3 (US/CDN) cash to PO Box 13, Station E, Toronto, ON M6H 4E1, Canada.
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