The Yellow Warehouse

posted 11/24/03

On a recent trip, two of us had the opportunity to explore several buildings in a large Canadian city. One of those was a four-story structure called the Yellow Warehouse, because it was a warehouse painted bright yellow.
We found it by the tried-and-true method of driving around for ages looking for buildings to explore. Many of the windows were boarded, and it had a general air of decay about it. It seemed a prime prospect for exploration.
We parked a few blocks away and carried our equipment to the building. The rear had two promising entrances; a fire escape and a loading dock door. The latter, in fact, had a person-sized hole in it. I slipped through and looked around. As loading docks go, it had to have once been very beautiful, being made almost entirely of varnished pine. Alas, a century or so had not been kind to it; part of the roof had given way, taking some of the ceiling with it, and there was water damage and pigeon poop all over. There was also a door leading into the main part of the building, which was ajar. I relayed this information to the person with me, who passed our camera gear through the door before climbing in himself. This was our sort of entrance - no climbing required!
Alas, the interior door was ajar, but it didn't actually open; there appeared to be something of considerable weight behind it. I should have checked, but didn't. So, back out the hole in the door, wondering if the stringy white insulation was asbestos or fiberglass.
We reshouldered our gear and headed up the fire escape. The lowest flights were regular stairs; easy climbing, very solid and sturdy. Alas, the second story fire exit was firmly closed. I went up to the third floor, climbing the ladder, only to find that one closed, too. Thankfully, the fourth floor door was open, and I entered carefully, scanning the room for security measures. My fellow explorer, who is mildly afraid of heights, followed slowly.
We were in an empty warehouse... a single large open area with beams to support the roof. The floor looked very, very dangerous - it dipped and curved and bulged most alarmingly. A sign on the wall read "no more than 100 Lbs per square foot". That was not encouraging. We carefully made our way to the far side of the room and set up for pictures of the atmospheric and decaying room. While trying to level the cameras we discovered that the ceiling was also askew, but didn't parallel the floor. Sheesh!
Pictures taken, we descended to the third floor, which looked somewhat safer than the fourth. More of the same, so we headed to the second. This had a few interesting little rooms, and appeared to have been offices once, before being used for storage. Some illiterate graffitti showed that we weren't the first people to gain unauthorized access to the building. All the lightbulbs lay smashed on the floor.
We headed down to the ground floor, and had a big surprise - the warehouse was still in use, at least on this level! Wooden crates lay stacked neatly, along with bicycles, metal shelving, and industrial-looking machinery. Looking around, we weren't able to see any motion detectors, or other security devices... but there was a security monitor/keypad device by the front door... with three green and one red light lit on it. Worried, we took a quick look around, took an even quicker look at the basement, which was mostly empty, and headed back up to the second floor, thinking to exit through the fire escape door on that level.
We were just reaching for it when I noticed the magnetic sensor on the inside of the door, with wires running away across the wall. Crap... the door was alarmed. So, on to the third floor, where we found that door to be alarmed, as well! So it was back up to the fourth floor, out the door, and back down the fire escape all the way to the ground, then to the car and away.
I'm still not super-enthused about exploring buildings, or at least buildings that aren't totally abandoned, but it was fun... even if we only got two or three photographs each out of it. It was a real joy to see such an old building in an unrestored state; most warehouses of it's age have either been razed long ago or completely rebuilt and restored to make lofts and condos. I could have done without the bad floors, and I'd still much prefer a cave or tunnel, but...


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