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Urban explorer Steve Duncan shares shots from his out-of-bounds expeditions in New York, London, Paris, and other world cities.

[Editor's note: All photos courtesy of Steve Duncan. All rights reserved.]

Steve Duncan has been an urban explorer for over a decade, first venturing underground as a student at Columbia University in New York City. Since then, he has entered underground worlds across the United States and Europe, including the limestone quarries under Odessa in the Ukraine and caves used to store beer by breweries in St. Paul, Minnesota.

In 2004 and 2005, Duncan hosted the Discovery Channel show Urban Explorers, and he has appeared on the History Channel as an expert on New York City’s underground. Most recently, his expeditions — and his photography — got some press following a week-long expedition into underground Manhattan with Erling Kagge, a Norwegian polar explorer.

What follows is a collection of 20 of his photos of out-of-sight, out-of-mind urban infrastructure — above ground as well as below — from around the world. Make sure to stop by Trips tomorrow for an interview with Steve Duncan.

About The Author

Steve Duncan

Steve Duncan is an urban explorer, historian, and photographer. He has been exploring tunnels and other inaccessible underground places in New York since 1996. His photos have appeared in The New York Times, The New York Post, The New York Sun, Men's Journal, and others. In 2004 and 2005 he hosted the Discovery Channel show "Urban Explorers," and more recently has appeared on the History Channel as an expert on New York City's underground. He is currently a PhD Candidate in Urban History at UC Riverside, near Los Angeles, CA.

  • Christy @ Technosyncratic

    These are truly stunning photos. What fun to explore the world’s sewers and abandoned buildings! :)

  • Julie

    Wow, just wow.

    I read the piece about Duncan in the NY Times a few days after hearing the lengthy segment about/with him on NPR. I loved his spirit. The NYC photos capture a part of the city most of us will never see- I especially love the smallpox hospital photo; I’ve always wanted to tromp around in that building. Thanks for sharing these; I look forward to the interview.

  • Michelle Schusterman

    Seriously, seriously striking photography.

  • Lindi Horton

    Wow that is incredible!

  • JoAnna

    Love this! What a fantastic thing to capture on film! In Las Vegas, there are thousands of people that live in the tunnels that run beneath the city. I’d love to see how this photographer would interpret that.

  • Kathy

    Those underground rivers are astonishing! Who knew!? #4 is especially gorgeous.

  • Michael Hodson

    simply fantastic shots of mostly undiscovered spots. This post is one of my favorites in recent weeks.

  • Sophie

    Incredible photos of such unusual places! The Salle Egyptienne – wow! Must have been a very interesting exploration.

  • L

    I’ve been following him for a couple years now on

    If you thought these were good, you’ll be blown away there. Power factories, tunnels behind Niagara falls, European subways, if its explorable, they’ve got the best pictures of it.

    • dsankt

      You left out Soviet airbases in Mongolia! I jest, thanks for the link.

  • Joe Le Merou

    Some great pictures here !
    I’ve already been to the catacombes but i’d like to try several others…

  • Andrea

    You’ve made these often-forgotten about places seem so beautiful – awesome!

  • Margaret

    Incredible images! And by sheer coincidence, I just heard a piece on “cataphiles” and the Paris catacombs on NPR this morning–Life Below The City Of Light: Paris Underground:

  • Maxim

    very beautiful photos, but I feel they are not 100% real especially the 11th one with big human skulls.

    • Steve Duncan

      All real!

  • Photo Calendars

    Who knew you could make sewers and catacombs look so beautiful? Great photos.

  • Keld

    Hi rearly great pictures, did you have to get special permission, to enter these places?

  • Linda Johns

    Steve, A woman was talking about you at rehearsal dinner last night in Paris. She seemed to think tours were possible. It doesn’t appear so from your website. Is that so? Thanks, Linda

    • Steve Duncan

      I don’t really do tours since these are usually not permitted areas for general public. If you want to discuss something in particular, please email me at

  • Keld (DK)

    Hi Steve
    I doubt anyone here thought that you did tours for others, i guess all here know that you’r a photographer, and not a tourguide;-)

    For my case, i was just curious, if one like me would be allowed to go there,(just for looking) but as you wrote: “these are usually not permitted areas for general public” But i feel sure that the catacombs are open to the general public, at least some areas!) because i know about people who have been there…


  • Francesca Stratton

    brilliant photos

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