Lesson Plans


Urban exploration is an exciting, out of the box way to teach about history and urban development in Washington, DC and beyond.  

This page includes prompts and lessons appropriate for university or high school classrooms.  Feel free to use them or adapt them as you see fit.  If you encourage your students to do any field research, please remember to caution them about the safety and legality of such excursions.  And also remember good etiquette – no vandalism! – leave nothing but footprints.

The Economics of Decay and Renewal – This lesson examines the ways in which history, economics, and politics are manifested in the abandoned spaces around us.  Featured DC sites include Forest Glen Seminary, Forest Haven Mental Center, McMillan Sand Filtration Site, and Klingle Road, though the lesson can easily be adapted for use in other urban areas.  Contributed by Allen Peitrobon.

Urban Exploration as History – How do ruins communicate history in ways that designed memorials or curated museums do not?  What are the benefits and drawbacks of this approach to historical memory? How is the visitor experience different in each case?  Ideal for lessons on public history, architecture, and Washington, DC history.

If you have additional lessons that might complement those featured on this page, I’d love to hear from you.  Please submit them to tkenning at gmail dot com.


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The Book

Abandoned Washington DC – Get the whole picture with more than 350 never-before-seen full-color photos of DC in decay, accompanied by essays and stories of urban exploration in the nation’s capital. Glossy, heavyweight pages, suitable for any coffee table or bookshelf. This is DCinruins the way it was meant to be seen.

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