By definition, abandoned spaces are devoid of people. They are forgotten, left to the trying hands of mother nature, proving that even steel and concrete are susceptible to the forces of decay and decomposition. However, these deserted places offer hints of what used to be. They are emblems of lost culture and forgotten history waiting to be discovered. The Proper People is a small collective of young adventurers who make such discoveries. They explore and document abandoned sites around the United States in order to learn what derelict monuments look like long after the rest of humanity has vacated their premises.
While their travels often bring them to empty factories and creepy asylums, the team recently documented their trip to Louisiana where they explored Six Flags New Orleans. The park has been abandoned since Katrina hit back in 2005, and now proudly wears the "Permanently Closed" badge on Google maps. It is a holy relic of abandoned spaces.
The amusement park finds itself just 14 miles from downtown New Orleans. Since Katrina's assault, there have been numerous plans from venture capitalists and entertainment companies to redevelop the park, none of which have come to fruition. The park remains in a state of decay, still flooded, and empty, a sign of the plight of the New Orleans People. "When we are exploring some of the buildings you can feel the atmosphere of what happened there still lingering. In the case of Six Flags New Orleans, it brings back memories of all the suffering the citizens in the area had gone through. Many lost their homes and possessions while some even lost their life. The park sits as a constant reminder of the storm," said Bryan, one of the group's founders.
Katrina may seem like a thing of the past, but Michael, the other founding member, explains "the devastation from the hurricane was a lot worse than many people realize or remember. In the downtown area, everything appeared to be rebuilt, but in the outskirts of the city abandoned buildings were everywhere we looked. Ten years later and it's quite apparent that the city still hasn't completely recovered from the storm."
As their short documentary shows, the massive roller coasters have overgrown with flora and fauna to become gigantic monsters that not only serve as a reminder of a devastating event, but also of Mother Nature's indifference toward man. "I think this sadness comes from the fact that it was a theme park, a place where people are usually having fun, and a lot of people have fond memories of," Michael said of their experience at the park, "It's really easy to draw a contrast between how fun of a place it used to be and how sad and devoid of life it is today."
It's clear that for The Proper People, part of the thrill in urban exploration, or urbex, comes from the adrenaline, part comes from the historic context, but Michael explains that it's also more poetic than that, "When you're inside some of these places, some of the scenes you find yourself in look so unreal that you get a feeling of being detached from reality."
Despite the artistic intentions, the idea of urbex is often scrutinized as it naturally involves breaking the law through trespassing and loitering. While areas like Six Flags New Orleans are rightly protected due to the hazards present, The Proper People explain, "The popular motto in urbex is take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, and break nothing but the silence."