After The Mall, a large chunk of the group had disbanded, and had been shrunken down to two: Jimothy, and myself. The weather had not only not improved, but managed to climb down by the hour. Remember the snow I mentioned? It was now rain, mixed with heavy winds, and a setting sun. The Mall had left a bitter taste of disappointment in my mouth, and I craved for something else to see that day. It just didn’t feel right to cut it so short.
A hospital was aforementioned while leaving the premises of the mall, but honestly, I didn’t know much of what was being referred to. It’s not the lovely Forest Park Hospital (which is unfortunately being demolished as I type this), but something almost just as good: another hospital being demoed. There was a post on Reddit from November I briefly paid attention to, in which it noted its demolition, but I assumed the place was well gone by now. Or, whatever was left was not anything of notoriety.
I need to apologize in advance for the lower quality, sometimes-pathetic iPhone quality of photos in this post. My digital camera decided to give out earlier in the day, and I never got a chance to replace the batteries.
Unlike every other place I’ve explored thus far, this hospital sits in a very, very, very active section of the city. It’s not tucked away against the road like the mall from earlier, it’s not in a quiet neighborhood, and it’s not in the middle of nowhere. This hospital sits amongst all the other hospitals in this area, and is still connected via skybridge in one section. A busy street, highway, social haven and a (beautiful) park all neighbor this hospital. To enter is like asking to get, right?
Urban exploration has many unspoken rules — don’t take anything, don’t break and enter, don’t get caught — but one of my favorite, personal rules is to always make your enter and your exit of the building(s) both as fun and safe as possible. While I can’t describe this too well while experiencing the same fun I had last Saturday, depending on how you get into your area of interest can honestly make or break the enjoyment of the trip overall. At least, it is for me. There is a mix of emotions going on in your head (most of which revolve around getting caught), but the most thrill-inducing one is your adrenaline rush. Honest to God, it forces you to act quickly, with consideration and rational thought, while hiding away from anyone who might give you away.
And that was exactly how getting into the hospital was. For the longest time, an older lady was sitting in her, parked, right across the street from our entrance (and I mean right across the street) for, God, at least thirty minutes. From where I was parked, we were watching her and waiting for her to leave. It felt like an eternity. Finally, about five minutes before we were going to give up, the lady got out of her car, met someone at her door, and walked inside her building.
We walk around the street, to the entrance of a blocked off sidewalk, dashing against the trafficless street, underneath a very small fence opening, and into the property we were. Without a doubt, I have never experienced such a tremendous thrill rush entering any building, abandoned or not, and I could not stop saying, “Oh my God.” to the person with me. It was a blast!
And so, we were in.
From the street, this set of buildings looks average-sized, but nothing as big in comparison to any of the hospitals still running on either side. But just like everything else that day, I was completely wrong. Just the first floor alone took a good thirty minutes to explore and look at. I obviously understand hospitals are much bigger than what people give them credit for, but this was sort of peculiar in that sense. Neat, but peculiar.
To truly understand the beauty of this place, you need to know there was not a soul in this building besides us two. And to anyone who regularly partakes in urban exploration, you know how absolutely rare of a thing this is to have. Like I mentioned in my post with The Mall, I usually have two fears: running into people, and running into scary people. Fortunately, since we were in a site being demolished, and the fact our entrance was an incredibly ballsy one, there was a massive relief on my end (can’t speak for Jimothy) that just made the overall experience something of greatness, even five minutes in.
The building we were in was, I believe, around ten floors, with the second building being eight floors. (The third is nearing completion of demolition, and is primarily nothing but rubble on the ground now.) Electricity still ran in spots of the building, but especially in the flights of stairs all around the buildings. Others, of course, were pitch black, which I assumed to be because that’s near their next spot(s) to hit. Windows were busted out all over the property, except for the ones looking directly across to the hospital still active and still running.
We were close. I’m pretty sure the gap between the two buildings was no more than thirty to forty yards apart, meaning we were able to see and watch people as they went about their business. That’s somewhat creepy, but such a hilariously peculiar thing to experience. These people had absolutely no idea of us, and that in itself was both amazing and morbid. In fact, the farther we got in the building, the closer we became to the other building. So much so, that at one point, I could even make out what a nurse was eating at her desk in the nursing station.
There was a new view to see of the juxtapose on the same spot on each floor, and the lower we got, the more interesting it became. This, of course, meant that if we were to shine our flashlights through these windows, someone would most likely spot us. We ended up being about as visible as the fog around us.
Eventually, we reached the top of our first building, and this meant we had to switch buildings. There was one way, and one way only — cross via rooftops.
It’s about this time I should announce that I developed a new interest that night: rooftopping.
You honestly do not how amazing of an experience this is until it’s experienced first-hand. Abandoned or not, standing on top of a building, stories tall, overlooking your surrounding area, is nothing short of breath-taking. Scary in a sense, but absolutely breathtaking.
We switched via rooftops about three times, one of which gave light to a sort of park in a small square in the center of the surrounding buildings. A surprising amount of televisions were tossed out from one of the windows broken out, and left in a culmination of broken televisions all stacked on top of one another. From what I remember correctly, where we were standing was not the highest point, and there was a ladder that took us even higher, and higher.
For those that don’t know, I was thinking of moving back to Amarillo soon after I came back from my Christmas trip. I adore St. Louis more than I should, but a mix of loneliness and financial problems brought me down for the first couple of weeks back. And while I contemplated the pros and cons of moving back or staying here, it wasn’t until I stood amongst the highest point of this building, standing in awe, that I decided I could make my problems work out and live happily in Missouri. This rooftop genuinely made that happy.
I kid you not when I say that everything about this view — the juxtapose of a building still happily in operation and one in semi-demolished ruins, the sight of a city glowing in the rain, and the wind slapping against my face — completely annexed every single thought I had of moving. Those two minutes we spent on top felt like thirty, and there was nothing I wanted to do more than stand atop, gazing out, and smiling like an absolute idiot.
Even though this was most likely a case of temporary happiness, I could not have cared less, and eventually agreed with myself that I should move on and see what else is here to surprise us.
Continuing down one of many halls that blended in with one another, there were many hilarious and depressing messages left by the staff (only around the fourth and fifth floors, however) from around last March or April. I’m led to believe that, based off the dates of these writings, and various notifications posted on patient rooms and various closets, they were noted of its closure no later than last Spring, and were allowed to do whatever.
One hallway included a fully completed March Madness tournament roster along the majority of the sidewall along a staircase, as seen below.
And on the floor below, on the wall across and near the elevators, there were personal goodbyes.
One of which included an apology from a lab worker, to the mice she tested on. It also happened to be the eeriest drawn mouse I had ever seen.
This continued for quite some time, and my personal favorite was the message that read, “I’ll miss you! Sincerely, the guy who was caught using drugs at SLU.” Although amusing (and picture-worthy), something was very ominous and eery about their messages. They all knew that, after its closure, their work in this building would now be nonexistent, and something of the past. Must be weird to carry that feeling.
Regardless, we searched the building from top to bottom, coming across the cafeteria (with overpriced smoothie prices, and the break schedule of employees), a very large conference room, now being used as the trashed out break room for the demolition workers (and previously left untouched, according to Jimothy), and a section using electricity prevalently, as if business were still operating.
Our last stop was what served as the main entrance, no more than five months ago. As I previously mentioned in the post regarding the abandoned mall, I saw what served as the most post-apocalyptic view thus far. That, however, was quickly eradicated when I stood on the flight of stairs, overlooking a trashed out, demolished view of the former entrance.
Which, of course, you can hardly make out here, even with editing all the brightness (thanks iPhone!), but believe me when I tell you it was something straight out of a horror movie. Nothing else this trip had creeped me out, but this did it for me. Great job, eerie building! It took time, but I finally found something creepy enough to get jitters thinking about.
And it was then that, after nearly three hours, and eight hours altogether of exploring both locations, that we left out a side entrance, leaving the same way we came in: underneath a fence, full adrenaline rush. The rain was still pouring, and the wind still blowing, but we said our goodbyes and left. The entire ride back, I was all smiles. (And I mean all smiles.) Nothing, not one thing, brought me down that night. Until I got sick. That brought me down.
For three hours, I had completely disappeared to the world around me, and enjoyed something many, many people will never get to once experience. I got to see the world continue on around me while I sat in a place buried by time, but not forgotten, all while experiencing the truest happiness since moving here.
- The hospital being demolished.
- I didn’t have a digital camera/GoPro camera to help me out a little bit more.
Look for the full image galleries to be posted soon.