Interview with ‘Hidden Cities’ Author Moses Gates
Hidden Cities: Travels to the Secret Corners of the World’s Great Metropolises by Moses Gates, is a memoir from an urban explorer who thrives on hunting out the parts of cities other travelers might not even know exist. Gates took a break from his travels to answer a few questions about his memoir. We also featured the book trailer as one of our trailers of the week, and you can check that out here.
Shelf Pleasure: What made you write HIDDEN CITIES?
Moses Gates: Really just that I had a good story and wanted to tell it. I had written up several short stories about various adventures, I figured I could combine them all into a memoir.
SP: Have you always been such a, for lack of a better word, exotic traveler?
MG: No. I didn’t really start traveling until I was in my mid-20s, and didn’t do any “exotic traveling” until my 30s.
SP: Any advice for our readers who may not be ready to get down and dirty just yet?
MG: Yes. Get down and dirty. The old cliche about “This is your comfort zone – and this is where the magic happens” is really true. So often, people want new and exciting sights and experiences (especially of the “secret, hidden, unknown” variety) but only within the confines of their existing comfort zone. I get asked all the time how to go somewhere secret or unknown or off-limits, but also in a completely safe, legal, & easily accessible manner. That’s not how it works. If you want to see those new sights, have those new experiences and adventures, you’re going to have to stretch your comfort zone a bit to encompass them. There’s no shortcut.
That doesn’t mean you necessarily have to start out trespassing and doing dangerous stuff. But there are things that we’re all both scared and curious about. Go do these things – don’t let the fear trump the curiosity.
SP: Where will you be heading next?
MG: No specific plans, but there’s a separate quarry system under Paris from the one that’s written about in the book that I really want to visit under the XIIIth arrondissement.
MOSES GATES is an urban planner, licensed New York City tour guide, and visiting assistant professor of demography at the Pratt Institute. His explorations of New York have been featured on the History Channel, the Travel Channel, WNYC, and in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Guardian. He has given talks and consulted for books and television on hidden New York City, the Paris Catacombs, and urban exploration around the world. He lives in New York City.
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