But down in the underground, you'll find a series of tubes...
October 26, 2013 4:11 PM   Subscribe

Deep below the streets of New York City lie its vital organs—a water system, subways, railroads, tunnels, sewers, drains, and power and cable lines—in a vast, three-dimensional tangle. Penetrating this centuries-old underworld of caverns, squatters, and unmarked doors, William Langewiesche follows three men who constantly navigate its dangers: the subway-operations chief who dealt with the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, the engineer in charge of three underground mega-projects, and the guy who, well, just loves exploring the dark, jerry-rigged heart of a great metropolis. What Lies Beneath.
posted by Ghostride The Whip (21 comments total) 60 users marked this as a favorite
So fascinating. The scale of everything is truly mindblowing. Pharaonic - such a great descriptor for these systems.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:47 PM on October 26, 2013

He told me that as a Romanian in Romania he had felt like a Jew, and that as a Jew in Israel he had felt like a Romanian. In New York it is clear that he feels like a New Yorker.

Not underground, I know, but such a detail.
posted by localroger at 5:48 PM on October 26, 2013

This combined with the NYT magazine article this week on the subways and Sandy made me really want to see a side-view cut through of how these various tunnels and whatnot stack underground. They particularly were talking about a low point in Harlem(-ish) where water would travel around, but they could count on some places that were higher. Does such a thing exist? I don't even know what it would be called so I can't even google it. A cutaway?
posted by nevercalm at 5:54 PM on October 26, 2013

"Don't go that way. That way the Orc Tribes hold dominion over the old line. Don't go that way either, it's nothing but alligators and CHUDs. Don't even get me started on the Deep Ones down that tunnel. Let's try this route; that's where the homeless and outcast eke out a meager yet strangely romantic existence, but it's mostly harmless."
posted by JHarris at 6:25 PM on October 26, 2013 [5 favorites]

(If you see any crusading ninja mutants though, just ignore them.)
posted by JHarris at 6:25 PM on October 26, 2013

I believe this is close to what you want, nevercalm, but it's fairly dated I think.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:40 PM on October 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

Amazing, though I'm biased - I'd read a Bill Langewiesche article listing the objects in his fridge on the edge of my seat - Always great when interesting subject matter meets a great writer.
posted by jalexei at 7:55 PM on October 26, 2013

Fascinating article - thanks for posting it. It's kind of amazing that there's enough rock left under NYC to support anything, with all the tunnels and pipes and whatnot.
posted by Quietgal at 8:00 PM on October 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

These kinds of articles are better than porn for me. Thank you for posting it.
posted by jferg at 8:11 PM on October 26, 2013

This stuff is fascinating. It takes me back to being a young boy and marvelling at the multi-storey excavations being made for the foundations of skycrappers in Sydney and the sudden realisation of the vast subterranean world beneath us.

Also, I have a sudden urge to play Minecraft.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 8:12 PM on October 26, 2013

I know people who know people who have explored that subterranean labyrinth. Fascinating, indeed. I heard of people emerging to areas of the city that the vast majority would never see in their lives, never have access to. Watch for rain before you head underground....

These descriptions are almost as good as any series of pictures, if not better.
posted by quiet earth at 10:27 PM on October 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by peeedro at 11:59 PM on October 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

For some reason this reminded me of this. It's interesting to see what's really down there, beneath the impossible pain of our history...
posted by Sequence at 1:23 AM on October 27, 2013

This goes well with the post title from the previous post "Terror from the Deep."
posted by caddis at 4:38 AM on October 27, 2013

I found the article didn't really go anywhere. It's like there is more story there but it too ran into a locked door before getting to the good stuff.
posted by srboisvert at 8:45 AM on October 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Fantastic — thanks for posting. Off to do some web diving on urban exploration journals because I'm far too scared of getting caught to go do it myself.
posted by spitefulcrow at 4:01 PM on October 27, 2013

Fascinating, endlessly so.

I'm kind of of the opinion that the total infrastructure of New York City is right up there with the greatest engineering feats of the last, eh, maybe ever. So much happens in such a small space, and everything fits into everything else on such an intricate scale.
posted by chicobangs at 5:20 PM on October 27, 2013

Interesting, thank you. For anyone else who might want to follow that link, it is an autodownloading pdf.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:14 PM on October 27, 2013

nevercalm you might also enjoy Underground by David Macauley (aimed at kids but beautifully illustrated) and The Works by Kate Ascher (more sophisticated explanation of city infrastructure for adults). Both have some great cutaway views.
posted by Wretch729 at 9:26 AM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

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