There is an insatiable appetite in St. Louis to see forgotten, abandoned and hidden spaces. The greater metropolitan area is full of them (like this ballroom, or this mall, or this hospital). At its worst, these images are called "ruin porn," a voyeuristic way for people to shake their heads at urban destruction without doing anything to improve the situation. That may be fair criticism, but there's no denying that these spaces have an eerie beauty that is hard to forget.
The following locals have turned their Instagram eyes away from selfies and brunches, and focus in on these places. Not all of them can be, strictly speaking, termed "urban explorers," but they do explore urban areas and the results are by turns stunning and disturbing (especially an image we've included in the very last page -- be warned that it is graphic and may be upsetting to animal-lovers). In pursuit of this, they don't always shoot in St. Louis, but they're must-follows for anyone who wants to see a different side of American cities.
6. @jtbwphoto a.k.a. Jason Tuggle Photography
From his online bio: "Jason is an amateur fine art photographer from St. Louis, MO with a passion for creating black and white images of urban decay, architecture, agriculture, and landscapes. Each image is available for purchase." Visit his website here.
5. @schrammphotography a.k.a. Melissa Schramm
Schramm is an exhibiting photographer and artist in St. Louis. She was a resident artist at Soulard Art Market, and has shown at Mad Art Gallery, the Koken Art Factory and the Crack Fox.
4. @patrickdevine a.k.a. Patrick Devine
We discovered Devine earlier this year after he posted a series from an abandoned YMCA he'd been exploring. By day, he assembles impossibly intricate pastries at La Patisserie Chouquette and in his free time he photographs a much messier side of St. Louis.
3. @michaelallen a.k.a. Michael Allen
Allen isn't really an "urban explorer" but he is a "architectural historian," an author and a lecturer. So naturally he finds himself often tromping through ancient and abandoned structures for clients and for his work for the Preservation Research Office. His online bio says that he researches "the impact of deindustrialization, population loss and postwar urban renewal projects on the preservation of historic urban landscapes." And luckily, through his Instagram, he takes us along for the ride.
2. @aoctaviusw a.k.a. Adrian Octavius Walker
Walker is a freelance photographer living in St. Louis who specializes in fashion and music photography. Check out his website here.
WARNING: Here comes that graphic photo we warned you about. 1. @minnerphotography a.k.a. Dennis Minner Photography
Minner got his start in urban exploration in New York City, before moving to St. Louis in 2010. Minner's captions contain tons of information about the space you're looking at, which is a bonus treat, and he travels quite a lot to find new and increasingly strange buildings to shoot. His website is here.