City dwellers find a new hobby

Don Gyula explores a section of an abandoned building near the Great Falls in Paterson, New Jeresey. He and others search and explore abandoned buildings throughout the area. PHOTO COURTESY OF MCT CAMPUS

Credit: DKS Editors

HACKENSACK, N.J. (MCT) – Urban exploring, a hobby gaining popularity among weekend adventurers that involves visiting abandoned buildings, has led explorers to document sites before bulldozers wipe away history.

For Don Gyula, 46, exploring has been in his blood since childhood.

“The cops used to bring me home and tell my mother, ‘We found your son in an abandoned building,'” Gyula said. “I guess I have always been interested in exploring my surroundings.”

That interest has led Gyula to search for and examine forgotten homes, factories and asylums.

TV shows such as “Ghost Hunters” and “Cities of the Underworld” have given urban exploration a popularity boost.

“But it’s difficult finding places to visit,” Gyula said, “The state is tearing down a lot of the old buildings and quickly developing the land. These places are disappearing quickly.”

There is also the risk of breaking the law. That’s why Gyula says he avoids obviously restricted areas.

Still, there are lessons to be learned about structural safety.

“I once fell through the second floor of an abandoned home. I was just standing there and the floor gave in under my weight,” recalled Gyula’s friend, Rory, who didn’t want his last name printed. “Thankfully, there was a rug on the floor below that softened the fall. From that day on, I made it a point to set safety guidelines for myself.”