If you’re looking for abandoned buildings to photograph, there is the hard way and the easy way. The hard way is to research, location scout and ask hundreds of questions that receive no reply.
The easy way to find abandoned places near me is to use an app. Simple.
Here’s our Forgotten app review.
Finding Abandoned Places
From being an avid Urbexer myself, I found out how to quickly and efficiently research finding abandoned buildings. It took a long time to create a process, and it didn’t always work out.
It was easiest in Berlin, as there were many buildings left over from the communist era. As it was a poor city, the local council didn’t have the funds to knock down or repair all of these buildings.
Some of them were huge, such as the Bärenquell Brauerei, and the cost would have been huge. Others had important political significance, such as the Abandoned Iraqi Embassy.
These buildings were on streets that I passed, allowing me to make notes on the address for later research. Others are hidden away, meaning you won’t find them without other people’s help.
To start, I would trawl photo websites that photographers could upload their images in droves. Flickr was my go-to place, and before that, DeviantArt.
You could search by location, and that would give you many visual delights to peak your fancy. Sometimes they included addresses, but this was a rare occasion.
It did give me the chance to message the uploader asking for details. Having images of abandoned building under my own name helped to show the legitimacy of my questions.
Urbexers are generally careful with divulging information, as they don’t want to see the information end up in the wrong hands. These areas can become destroyed or used as party venues.
At other times, there were articles about each place. They didn’t give an address but gave a correct name. This was searchable through Google, and an address pops up.
What Is the Forgotten App?
The Forgotten app is the easy way. It means you no longer have to do the leg work yourself. You can find the best abandoned buildings for photoshoots from your couch.
With the app, the best thing is its free and available on Android and Apple phones alike.
The trouble is, if you live outside of the United States, you can’t download the mobile app. Luckily, there is a website you can use to retrieve the same information.
You can find the website here (or forgottenapp.com). It has all the same information as well as the search function you might need.
I was able to find quite a few abandoned places in countries around Hungary, as my search for ‘Budapest‘ received no pins or locations.
Searching via your smartphone isn’t advisable, as the web page isn’t optimised for mobile phones. The screen and information is cut in half, with a white area on the right.
All you need to do is (after downloading the app) enter a topic, and it brings up a google map of nearby locations. Pins point them out, giving you the address you need to find it.
You can search using any keywords or locations you wish. Typing in ‘Colorado’ will show you all the abandoned locations in that state, ‘Denver’ will show you the sites in and around the city.
The number of listings is limited and you might find that there isn’t much, if anything, in your area. There is a handy slider in the top-left that allows you to refine your search between 1 and 991 miles.
Adding a Listing
If you have access or information about an abandoned building, there is a way to add this to the site.
From the ‘Resources’ drop-down menu, find the ‘Creating A listing?’ area. Clicking on it brings you to a page that gives you six points on how to make the best listing.
The problem is, there doesn’t seem to be a way to create an actual listing. Even by ‘Signing Up’, there is no mention of how you can complete this step.
Other people have added listings as their name appears under the information about each abandoned place.
A few people online have commented that this app and web page are no longer working. There seems to be some truth in that. For one, you can’t download the app if you’re not in the States.
This is strange, as listings appear from all around the world. Secondly, the web page doesn’t work correctly on smartphones. This could be a coding or programming issue, however.
On top of this, someone did mention that the company is able to find your location and sell it to third-parties. I am not sure if this is true, as no evidence suggests so, but food for thought.
As an avid Urbexer, this is a handy way to find addresses if you are just starting out. It doesn’t help me so much, as these areas and addresses are already public knowledge.
I am conflicted, like many others, and think this is great and horrible idea at the same time. The Urbex unwritten code states: leave nothing but your footprints and take nothing except experiences.
Having addresses so openly available allows the risk of graffiti, damage and even arson, ruining these sites forever.