Bradley Garrett

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Bradley L. Garrett

Bradley Garrett (born c. 1980)[1] is an American-born social and cultural geographer at the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford. He is the author of Explore Everything: Place-Hacking the City,[2] an ethnographic account of activities of the London Consolidation Crew (LCC), a group of urban explorers Garrett calls "place hackers". Although Garrett has published academic research, he is perhaps better known for his photographic and video work connected to this project which has received worldwide media attention.[1]


Garrett received a B.S. in anthropology and B.A. in history from the University of California, Riverside in 2003 before moving to Australia to undertake an MSc in maritime archaeology at James Cook University in 2005. He did his first ethnographic research with the Winnemem Wintu tribe in Northern California about loss of access to ancestral land inundated by the construction of Shasta Dam. He then worked for the Bureau of Land Management as an archaeologist.[3] In 2008, Garrett moved to the United Kingdom where he completed a PhD in social and cultural geography at Royal Holloway, University of London, with a thesis entitled Tales of Urban Exploration.[4] He was supervised by the human geographer Tim Cresswell.


Garrett currently works at the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford. His research interests are at the intersections of cultural geography, archaeology and visual methods. Garrett describes himself as a researcher, explorer and photographer and writes that his research is about "finding the hidden in the world".[5][6]

His most significant work is Explore Everything: Place-Hacking the City.[2] The book describes the exploits of the London Consolidation Crew (LCC), a group urban explorers in London who trespassed into hundred of locations over four years in an attempt to "reveal the hidden city".[7][8] Garrett claims the goal of this work was to re-map London by exposing the ways in which surveillance and control are embedded in modern spatial planning. Garrett suggests surveillance is subverted and rendered inert through the urban explorer's "place hack" when control of the city is temporarily taken back through creative practice.

Garrett and the LCC came to notoriety first in 2011 when they released photos of the mothballed London Post Office Railway, a 6.5-mile subterranean train network used by the Post Office to transport letters across the city.[9][10] The next year, the group (with Garrett) climbed the Shard, the European Union's tallest skyscraper, before it was completed and released photos from the top of the building.[11] Near the end of his research project, Garrett followed the LCC as they systematically infiltrated abandoned Tube stations in the London Underground without permission and posted photos online.[7][12] He has made a number of appearances in UK media discussing these explorations.[4][13][14]


Garrett has been criticised for becoming too close to his project participants and failing to maintain objective distance.[15] Four of his project participants were arrested inside the London Tube on Easter 2011,[16] He was later himself arrested on the Tarmac at Heathrow Airport during pre-dawn house raids on the LCC by British Transport Police investigating the group's means of access to abandoned Tube stations.[1] Garrett maintains that he does ethnography in the tradition of the Chicago school (sociology) and claims the only way to understand a culture is to become fully immersed in it.[7] The charges against Garrett concluded with a condition discharge being issued by the court. [17] The writer Will Self came to the defence of Garrett and the urban explorers, stating that "place-hackers are performing a valuable service by reminding us that the city should, in principle, belong to its citizens" [18] The Halford Mackinder Chair of Geography at The University of Oxford Professor Danny Dorling also spoke out at the end of the case, contending that their prosecution had been a fundamental breach of academic liberty. [19]


  1. ^ a b c Power, Matthew (March 2013). "Excuse us While We Kiss the Sky". GQ Magazine. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Bradley L. Garrett (October 2013). Explore Everything: Place-Hacking the City. Verso Books, Brooklyn, London and Paris. ISBN 9781781681299. Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  3. ^ Garrett, Bradley. "Drowned Memories: the Submerged Places of the Winnemem Wintu". Archaeologies: the Journal of the World Archaeology Congress. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Godwin, Richard (15 June 2012). "On a Mission with London's Urban Explorers". Evening Standard Magazine. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  5. ^ Garrett, Bradley. "Bradleygarrett". Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  6. ^ "Oxford Geography Staff Profile". University of Oxford. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c Garrett, Bradley (31 July 2013). "Undertaking Recreational Trespass: Urban Exploration and Infiltration". Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. doi:10.1111/tran.12001. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  8. ^ Garrett, Bradley (2013). Dr. Verso Books. ISBN 1781681295. 
  9. ^ "En fotos: Viaje a uno de los secretos mejor guardados de Londres". BBC Mundo. 3 May 2011. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  10. ^ "The London Post Office Railway". SilentUK. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  11. ^ Andrews, Emily (9 April 2012). "'Urban explorer' scales London's 1,000ft Shard". Daily Mail. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  12. ^ Garrett, Bradley. "Hacking the London Underground". Place Hacking. 
  13. ^ "Invisible Cities". BBC Radio 3. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  14. ^ Hannah, Booth (21 September 2012). "Big picture: Urban Exploration, by Bradley Garrett". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  15. ^ Luke, Bennett. "Exploring the Bunker". Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  16. ^ Davinport, Justin. "Terror alert at 7/7 Tube station blamed on four urban explorers". Evening Standard. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  17. ^ Garrett, Bradley. "Place-hacker Bradley Garrett: research at the edge of the law". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 13 June 2014. 
  18. ^ Self, Will. "Give the freedom of the city to our urban explorers". Evening Standard. Retrieved 13 June 2014. 
  19. ^ Booth, Robert. "Oxford University academic who scaled Shard is spared jail sentence". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 June 2014. 

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