Friday, August 17, 2007

It's hard to believe that once upon a time, I would have been willing to risk my life to go and see lower Bay station. I was at Bay station Sunday night when I saw that a door leading down to the disused station below was slightly ajar. The door was locked, but there was enough of a gap to look down the stairs and onto the platform with one eye. Lower Bay is remarkably like Upper Bay, except much dirtier and emptier. I have to admit that it still holds a haunting appeal for me, but it's harder to admit that I would have risked my life to go see it by walking through the subway tunnels.

Regardless, there exists in all of us to various extents a fascination with the unusual and the quirky. It is perhaps a response to the perfection in our lives through automation and technological developments. We get what we want when we want and how we want it. I would argue that part of the appeal of camping, for example, is similar to the appeal of Lower Bay: we want to escape the smooth, uneventful precision of daily life for something inconvenient, unpredictable and eventful.

The late Jeff Chapman, creator of the website and zine that got me interested in anomalous spaces, wrote that "humans are naturally curious creatures. We can't help but want to see the world around us; we're designed to explore and to play, and these instincts haven't disappeared just because most of us now live in large cities where parking lots have replaced common areas, malls have replaced city squares and the only public spaces that remain are a few grudgingly conceded parkettes." Chapman's interest lay predominantly in urban exploration, and in exploring the inner workings of our cities. I don't entirely share his interest, but he does help to explain my interest in speed bumps and potholes like Lower Bay.

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