The abandoned Freun Mill in North Minneapolis is one of the most popular urban exploring sites. (Mark Racchini)
The abandoned Freun Mill in North Minneapolis is one of the most popular urban exploring sites.

Mark Racchini

Urban exploring in the Twin Cities

October 28, 2015

As you step out of your car near downtown Minneapolis/St. Paul, you hear the usual city noises of horns, sirens, and traffic. Looking around to make sure no meddling people are aware of your activities, you proceed to your destination. This destination can vary, some prefer historic sites, while others look for a more challenging place to trespass. Whatever the site may be, they all are participating in the same fad of urban exploring.

This new and dangerous trend, which most commonly involves the younger generation exploring abandoned buildings, has come to the Twin Cities and is now prompting some building owners to go to measures to try to keep these trespassers at bay.

The thrilling sensation and adrenaline rush that comes when exploring an abandoned twenty-story building, and the spectacular view that so many would only dream to see of the city, can only be found through urban exploring. The graffiti that presents itself could be found in a world-renowned museum.

Many would describe urban exploring as treacherous and stupid. Some may see it as only a way to find trouble. Associated with drug use, run-ins with the homeless, and thrilling heights, these associations can be true.

George Benning

The risks of this hobby can seem unending. Many locations for urban exploring are on private property or have been marked with “no trespassing” signs, often ignored by thrill-seekers. If one is caught by the police, it is not uncommon to face charges. Other dangers arise, too; the buildings can be out of code by decades, shards of broken glass can be found throughout the site, and sometimes ceilings or floors that have fallen through.

Jeff Wallis is the designated developer at @Glenwood Business Campus, located next to the infamous Fruen Mill in North Minneapolis. The mill is known to attract hundreds of explorers every year, and numerous teens trespass the mill’s property. “There always has been a lot of activity at the mill, peaking in the summer months; some days [we’ll have] thirty people inside the mill,” Wallis said.

Although @Glenwood Business Campus does not officially own the Fruen Mill, they are on good terms with the recent buyers of the property, and and have recently restricted access to the Mill’s property. “We recently fenced the property in at our expense to lower and cut down on the possibility of accidents,” Wallis said.

“We just try to inform, educate and then move on. If they, the explorers, really want to get in, they’re going to get in anyway,” Wallis said.


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