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Hidden Cities: My Journey into the Secret World of Urban Exploration
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Hidden Cities: My Journey into the Secret World of Urban Exploration

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  352 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
In this fascinating glimpse into the world of urban exploration, Moses Gates describes his trespasses in some of the most illustrious cities in the world from Paris to Cairo to Moscow. Gates is a new breed of adventurer for the 21st century. He thrives on the thrill of seeing what others do not see, let alone even know exists. It all began quite innocuously. After moving t ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published March 21st 2013 by Tarcher
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May 01, 2013 Oriana rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2013
There are two semi-related parts to this review. My thoughts on the book itself are first, and then about halfway down you'll find a screed about the whimsical nature of discoverability that I wrote shortly after Great God Amazon announced their purchase of GR. So.

Part the 1st: My review of Hidden Cities
If you read the second part below, you'll find that I know Moses Gates, at least glancingly. He seems like a really smart & interesting guy—he's an urban planner, NYC tour guide, and devotee
May 24, 2013 xDEAD ENDx rated it it was ok
Shoddy and repetitive writing. Urban exploration can't be put down on paper without the writer coming off as a braggart. And I really don't care to read about the deviations from the exploration, which seem to center around disrespectful romantic trysts and how bad he has to shit while riding in a 4x4 next to a woman (oh the horror!).
Kyle Ryan
Jul 28, 2013 Kyle Ryan rated it really liked it

For anybody who’s ever wondered what lies beyond the ‘do not go past this point’ sign at the end of the subway station or imagined climbing up monuments ranging from the bell towers of Notre Dame to the top of the Brooklyn Bridge, Moses Gates and his band of “urban explorers” do the dirty work on your behalf in the new book ‘Hidden Cities’.

‘Hidden Cities’ is a first-person memoir/travelogue exploring the culture of the loosely-connected network of urban adventurers. Urban exploration has gaine

Apr 02, 2013 Laura marked it as unfinished
Can't finish this one. The historian and former museum employee in me cringes at the thought of possible damage to historic landmarks by trespassers such as the author and his friends. The mom in me wonders about who will clean up the mess the time it doesn't work out so well and you touch the third rail or the manhole cover comes down on your fingers. I hope at some point in the book he addresses the fact that a middle class white man can get away with a lot of escapades that many other folks c ...more
Judith Seid
Mar 13, 2013 Judith Seid rated it it was amazing
I read the book in two nights because I just couldn't put it down. It was engaging, poignant and funny. In fact, I laughed so hard I scared the dog.
Debra Lowman
May 28, 2013 Debra Lowman rated it liked it
I first heard about this book as an NPR feature. The author is very engaging and Hidden Cities is his personal memoir of urban exploration, mostly done at the expense of the law. Locked gates-not a problem. Deterrent signage-they didn't mean Gates.

I wouldn't use this one as a travel guide, you won't find enough consistent information here to help you out. The book might have been a lot shorter, really. After a bit, I found myself skimming.

He does provide a short bibliography of books in case y
Mar 05, 2013 Anna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
I want to start by being honest. As a relatively sheltered suburban girl, I had no idea urban exploration was a thing that even happens. It rarely if ever crosses my mind to go find an abandoned building or out-of-the-way storm drain to investigate. Moses Gates makes it sound really appealing, though. This is a memoir about exploring the city around you, whatever city that happens to be. It had way more depth to it than I expected. It turns out that the climbing of huge bridges has a life lesso ...more
Jul 08, 2013 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Hidden Cities suffers somewhat from self-indulgent man-child syndrome, but its finer moments made me laugh out loud and think about the role of cities--and the explorers of cities--in human history and society. I love the idea of urban exploration, and admire the rebels who ignore 'keep out' signs in favor of seeing something outside the realm of the ordinary. But at times Gates comes across as immature and selfish. Despite that, I found myself daydreaming about abandoned subway stations and sec ...more
Mar 07, 2014 Jared rated it liked it
This started out strong and had some fun bits, but it sort of fell apart with all of the chest beating and burning man type shit. Sooo cool bro you wore some women's clothes, had sex on a bridge, and attended the most secret parties in sewers. The bragging and dick swinging got out of hand. There was even a bit where he called out someone else for too much bragging... then continued it himself. All of this took away from what could have been a neat book.
May 27, 2013 Nancy rated it really liked it
My work allows me to see things that are not generally available to the public. Mo takes us to places that you must break the rules to see, as well as a good dose of fearlessness. Reading it, I wanted to have the stamina and chutzpah to do the same things knowing that just was never going to happen. So many disappearing worlds - from the wilderness to the hidden urban landscape. An entertaining chronicle.
Jan 29, 2014 Joyce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ala-2014
I would have given this book four stars, but the author's sort of "bro-ish" attitude towards women was a turnoff. Parts of the book feel like a bunch of frat boys doing "Jackass" type stunts for the hell of it, which is boring. But when the author is able to step away from that and give us a glimpse into the undergrounds of some of the world's largest cities...well,*that's* compelling.
Kathleen Fowler
Nov 12, 2016 Kathleen Fowler rated it it was ok
My passion for armchair urban exploration was kindled years ago by images I found online of abandoned subway stations, crumbling mental hospitals, disused power stations, and parts of the Parisian catacombs closed to the public. Then I read the wonderful Access All Areas by the late, great Ninjalicious, which further fanned the flames. Despite the fact that Access All Areas is basically a handbook on how to gain illegal access to sites off limits to the public, it was written with a healthy resp ...more
Alan Bates
Jun 13, 2013 Alan Bates rated it really liked it
Shelves: mine
Hidden Cities: A Memoir of Urban Exploration is a chronicle by Moses Gates of his and his friends explorations into places where he is not supposed to go like the catacombs of Paris, the subway systems of New York City and London as well as climbing various bridges and buildings and sewer systems the world over. No trespassing signs just seem to attract him. It turns out that there is a huge subculture of urban explorationist’s that love to to do these things. For example I think that I am the o ...more
Apr 26, 2013 J. rated it liked it
The author is an engaging speaker and I bought the book after hearing on an NPR interview. The book is accurately sub-titled "a Memoir" and is about his personal experiences and inner thoughts and emotions about urban exploring. He was a professional NYC travel guide, but you won't find the facts or historical background that a travel guide or travelog would normally provide. He well brings the excitement and compulsion of urban exploring to the page but I was looking for more than emotions. He ...more
Apr 24, 2014 Armand rated it it was amazing
This is an awesome, touching book. It explores the hidden infrastructure of various cities, but it really grabs the reader on an emotional level because it is very deep and introspective. Sample paragraph:
"Some cities are shallow, some are deep. It's not a value judgement and it doesn't have much of a bearing on how much I like a town. But it's there. Paris is a shallow city. Despite not knowing French and having spent only a few weeks there, I can tell you I know Paris. Maybe not all the nooks
Nov 30, 2013 Mary rated it liked it
Moses Gates the author of Hidden Cities does things I would like to do if heights didn't make my stomach go whoa! He and his various friends climb to the tops of bridges, walk subway tracks, and plumb sewers ancient and modern.

The book begins with Moses and two of his friends on top of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. They have managed to climb up there unobserved and hope to depart the same way at least until Moses accidentally strikes the bell.

Moses is a New York City Tour guide who loves to e
Brady Dale
Apr 11, 2013 Brady Dale rated it liked it
It’s a common feeling: You’re walking through a city at night, doing something banal, thinking you might like to be doing something cooler. And then you think that somewhere, probably not too far from you, a bunch of people are having a really amazing time, and you know that if you only knew what it was and where to go you’d be welcome. But you don’t know. You don’t know even know what that amazing something is, but in a city there’s always something.

Get ready to feel that way on a whole new lev
Mar 06, 2013 Joseph rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
This is a very interesting book that reads like a cross between the adventures of Indiana Jones and the writings of Jean-Paul Sartre. Gates’s memoir operates on several levels. There is his clear passion for all that is great about cities, with each being a unique expression of the populations’ collective sentiments and culture. Then, there is the physical expression of a city’s status; those edifices that are part of all great cities that Gates wants to expose in his own very unique way. This i ...more
Apr 27, 2013 Sharon rated it really liked it
This is probably one of the most unusual books I have ever read. It is about some glove trotting adventures of urban explorer, Moses Gates. I this book the author discusses how he ended up traveling off the beaten to speak. Throughout the memoir Gates discusses exploring various places such as the catacombs beneath Paris, scaling bridges in New York City, and slogging through sewer drains in cities around the world.

I don't know why the book appealed so much to me. Perhaps it was his i
Jan 23, 2013 Whitney rated it liked it
I never LOVE memoirs because I get frustrated when they don't follow a nice storyline, but that's real life and I need to get over it. I enjoyed reading about Gates' adventures in and under cities all over the world, and I like how much he referenced the community aspect of urban exploring because I think that is what really makes this hobby meaningful. I wish he had talked more about cities in the US so I could picture the scenarios better, but I can imagine that going terribly awry when people ...more
Apr 09, 2013 Eric rated it liked it
Fascinating book and a real page turner. Read it one day. That says a lot right there. Simply spell binding misadventures by urban explorer Moses Gates. But there are some very real problem with this book. It encourages people to go into incredibly dangerous places like climbing NYC bridges, crawling though sewers, breaking into abandoned buildings, climbing churches, including Notre Dame! Just don't get any big ideas kids. I do know people who engage in these wild and crazy activities in NYC. A ...more
Melissa Clare
Jul 01, 2013 Melissa Clare rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
I finished this book a while ago and forgot to review it, so I'm probably forgetting some points. I enjoyed it a lot and I'll probably re-read it (not now though, so the review is what it is).

Moses Gates describes his adventures through sewers and climbing bridges all over the world. It's a fun and fascinating subject (urban exploration) and it definitely made me want to do more trespassing. I do wish he'd talked more about abandoned buildings and less about underground rivers, but that's just
Oct 27, 2015 Cheryl rated it liked it
It was an engaging read. Afterall the grass is always greener and 'more fascinating' on the other side, which is the forbidden side - the side which reads No Trespassing.
Urban explorers or so they call themselves are people who explore places one barely heard of - the drains, the pinnacle of observatory decks, the top of the bridges, abandoned houses, abandoned subways. It seems like there is another world just beneath the land we walk on, or another sight of the land different from the view of
Margaret Hren
May 29, 2013 Margaret Hren rated it it was amazing
A very entertaining travel memoir! I found urban exploration fascinating, and wish inn my younger years had tried some of this -- especially camping out overnight in the Paris catacombs. This a great book that lets you see another side of the urban cities around us, it's architecture, and the history of developing societies. It's interesting to see in some cases how the plan for urban grown changes or that there is also great beauty in the skylines of our cities. (You'll love the story about get ...more
Jean-Paul Adriaansen
Moses Gates, an urban planner and NY tour guide, shares his passion for the exploration of the world above our heads and under our feet.
In search of the soul of a city, he went down in railway tunnels, old sewer systems, centuries old tunnels, and climbed abandoned buildings, bridges, and even the bell tower of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.
The explorers of those hidden worlds seldom talk about their discoveries; what they do is more than often illegal. So, every time they enter those hidden
Mike Smith
Jan 13, 2013 Mike Smith rated it liked it
At first I didn't realize the illegal nature of most of Gates's adventures, so I was disappointed that it doesn't provide places I'd be interested to visit. But even though I was rarely interested in the locations he visited, Gates did a wonderful job of capturing the adrenaline rush of pushing his own limits. I enjoyed that he isn't a climber with no fears, but someone who feels the nervousness and finds the will to go beyond. Unfortunately it's often liquid courage, especially his friend, but ...more
Jun 30, 2013 Mallory rated it liked it
I would've liked a little more adventuring and a little less memoir-ing, but that's a personal preference that shouldn't be held against the author. It isn't his fault I'm just not really a memoir fan. I always think I will be, but life just isn't as cinematic as fiction and I tend to find it draggy. And while there were a few sections of this book that did drag, they weren't enough to take away from the fun of reading it. Overall, I thought this was an entertaining and solid read, if not exactl ...more
Sep 05, 2013 Althea rated it it was ok
While interesting enough, after a while the book got very repetitive. A sewer is a sewer and a tower is a tower no matter where in the world they are. Mr. Gates seems quite proud of the fact that he skirts the law while on his quest for adventure in the off-limits areas of cities and I think that accounts, in part, for his adrenaline rush while pursuing this hobby. I had to begin another book to keep from being bored by this one. I don't know if I'll finish it or not.

Too many good books out ther
Laser Cat
Jun 05, 2014 Laser Cat rated it it was amazing
This book is a mix of urban exploration, explorer culture and travel memoirs of the author. Each short chapter is a snippet of the author's life as he travels throughout the world looking for new places to explore, often meeting up with other fellow urban explorers. Not only was the history of the places interesting but I found the book to be well written.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I found it to be an interesting insight into the world of underground sewers, bridge climbs, subway tu
Mar 18, 2014 Stephanie rated it really liked it
This is an autobiography about a man who explores a lot of forbidden areas of major cities -- abandoned subway tunnels and bridge climbing in New York City, catacomb exploring in Paris, underground rivers in Moscow, etc. The book starts off with the author sounding a bit too-impressed with himself, but after a couple of chapters you realize that the main character is maturing along the way (at least somewhat). Interesting ideas in it about why authorities block off areas, and the psychological p ...more
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Have any Urban Explorers Read this book? 1 5 May 01, 2013 08:12AM  
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