Now reading

Book Review of "Explore Everything: Place-Hacking the Ci...

Book Review of "Explore Everything: Place-Hacking the City" by Bradley Garrett

“There is a feeling among many people that the city is built for others, that we may look at it but may not touch it, the spatial equivalent of an artifact in a glass case in a museum.” “Explore Everything: Place-Hacking the City” documents the adventures of Bradley Garrett, an urban explorer, and researcher at

Head article image

"There is a feeling among many people that the city is built for others, that we may look at it but may not touch it, the spatial equivalent of an artifact in a glass case in a museum."

"Explore Everything: Place-Hacking the City" documents the adventures of Bradley Garrett, an urban explorer, and researcher at the University of Oxford, as he delves into the abandoned buildings, infrastructure, and construction sites of London and beyond. Roughly defined as the infiltration of the built environment - typically ruined, abandoned, or places under construction - Garrett claims "urban exploration" existed long before organized communities formed. His experiences in "Explore Everything," however, are framed by his time with the organized London urban explorer (UE) community, the “London Consolidation Crew (LCC)," and interactions with the community at large, when his blog went viral and London governments began attempting to prosecute their activities.

"By sneaking into places they are not supposed to be, photographing them and sharing those exploits with the world, explorers are recording people’s normalized relationships to city space. It is both a celebration and a protest.” Beginning with a leisurely stroll through a long-abandoned mental hospital outside West Park, with explorers that would become pillars of the LCC, Garrett takes us through his experiences "hacking" the underground tube system of London, the iconic "The Shard" when it was under construction, and the sewers of Las Vegas. Originally an explorer himself, Garrett applied his academic interests to documenting his experiences with the underground community, the political ramifications of the practice, and the way exploration shifted his own perspective and life. While motivations varied between himself and the explorers described in the book, most claimed the desire for experiencing the city on their own terms, and breaking through restricted areas, as critical objectives. “Through infiltrating the urban environment, explorers assert an equal right to power, space, history, investment, development, and knowledge.”

"Explore Everything: Place-Hacking the City" by Bradley Garrett

While completing his doctoral work at the University of Oxford in Urban Geography, Garrett kept a blog of the adventures cataloged in his book. His key objective was to inspire others to participate in their cities, which eventually went viral and was used as evidence in a UK lawsuit filed against urban explorers. Garrett’s adventures were part exploration, tactical urbanism, and anthropological study, which led to a government-fueled crack down on the infiltration of places. “This is the inherent political power behind place hacking: rendering the city more legible, more tangible, for everyone... Wherever doors are closed, we will find a way through. Wherever history is buried, we will uncover it. Wherever architecture is exclusionary, we will liberate it.” Garrett’s book inspires a broadening of the reader’s horizons when it comes to the city. Beyond the natural implications for urban politics, it also encourages an active life devoid of distraction and “mindless” consumption. Filled with beautiful photographs and his first-hand accounts of exploits, the book is a testament to the possibilities for urban life and fulfilling exploration.

How does this affect your perspective of cities? Are there places in your city that inspire your curiosity or are off-limits? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below.

The Global Grid gave away a free copy of this book to one lucky person. Be sure to never miss one of our reviews. Follow #TheGlobalGridReads for our reviews and join our Goodreads group for opportunities to win free books in the future.

Credits: Creative Commons images courtesy of and Bradley Garrett. Updated January 21, 2018.

By purchasing "Explore Everything" using the links on this page, you'll be supporting The Global Grid. A small portion of the sales come back to us to support our work and book reviews like this.

Intern photo

Christine Cepelak is an emerging sustainability and corporate social responsibility professional in the Dallas, Texas area. Interested in how communities can facilitate connection, well-being, and equality, she has spent time serving on location in a...

  • Ben

    i’ve always wanted to do some urban exploration. i remember reading the situationist manifesto for the workshop for nonlinear architecture a while ago, and found it pretty entertaining. i visit st. louis ever so often, and the architecture there is interesting; however, due to renovation and such the most confrontational is gone–like pruitt igoe, old stadium, etc. hannibal also has some pretty provocative architecture, but again, it’s become dilapidated.

  • J. V. Scheidelaar

    I’m inspired!
    As a UNESCO World Heritage Site … Willemstad, Curacao has various agencies that in more or less degree who cares for the designated monuments. But the major part of the society is not aware of the meaning of our monuments! By reading this book, I want to get the tools to bring neglected and dilapidated monuments under the attention of the various agencies … but most of al, to the people op Curacao!
    To bring more awareness and hopefully a selfsufficient use for the Monuments and the city!

Tuesdays, in your inbox.

Weekly local urbanist news and jobs. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!