Naples Pizza

The Danger of Waiting too Long . . .

Most cautious Urban Explorers like to scout out a place first before even thinking about attempting to gain entry. This allows a bit of site research to evaluate the risk-to-reward ratio. Sometimes however, being too cautious will leave you empty-handed. Take this recent scouting trip downtown to Naples Pizza.

My days and weekends generally do not take me downtown. I first noticed that this building was unoccupied about two months ago. This was rather obvious because of the hoarding on the front doors and the upstairs windows open allowing the foul weather in. To follow-up, I then visited again with camera in hand a month ago.

I reviewed the images I took that day for possible points-of-entry into the building. I looked for sales signs or any other postings. I did not see any which may mean either renovation or demolition, both of which could deny an enjoyable exploration. The business number had been re-assigned and the current owner was not obvious.

On a third trip about two weeks ago, I checked out traffic flows in front of the building and noted business hours of adjacent businesses and tried to get an understanding of the daily routine of residential neighbours. I took a stroll by the building with a ‘mis-delivered’ courier envelope and tried ground-level doors. The back stairs looked completely unsound and ready to collapse without warning.

It was during the third trip that I had decided that the best way in was to follow the pigeons through a second floor window using the roof of the adjacent business. Since I already had their hours of operation, I knew when best to go.

I did not like this sort of entry because the adjacent buildings were higher and would leave me exposed. This then dictated a night entry which brought about a whole new set of issues. Climbing into a window into a very dark room does not allow a thorough assessment of the integrity of the floor. One might also knock something over in the room and break it . . . certainly not what I’m attempting to aspire to with regards to my motto of ‘Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Footprints’.

With my night of exploration planned during a week-night (there is a busy bar across the road doing brisk weekend business), I swung by one last time during the day. To my horror, a demolition crew had already started on the building and had the back-half already down.

I immediately drove around to an elevated parking garage behind the building which afforded a good view of the damage already done. Within the rubble and the on the now-exposed second floor, I was able to see furniture and other personal effects left behind by the former occupants.

Even though all these items were eventually going to the landfill, I missed a golden opportunity to digitally document the lives lived within those walls. What a loss.

The building was completely demolished by day’s end. My advice, be cautious but don’t take your time about it.

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