Every time I end up at the far end of a train platform I think about going to explore the tunnels. A part of me knows there won’t be anything crazy, just mostly dark, dank concrete and piping – a lot of it tagged. There’d be rats. Maybe I’d run into someone, but probably, and hopefully, not. The truth is, not too much goes on under there, at least how we think of it. Sure there can be some great spots with intriguing history, but no small turtles are being transformed into pizza loving bi-peds. It is like when I am hiking and see a little cave. I just want to go inside it.
It’s not like nothing happens under the city. Dark Days (2000) documents the lives of some homeless people living in an Amtrac tunnnel, but they are ousted by the authorities in the end. Maybe city workers have some crazy stories about a shit-pipe exploding. Unfortunately, sometimes manholes explode.
Still, the real things happening beneath the city are huge megaprojects. I never used to like engineering or anything to do with construction, but now I’ll watch shows like Modern Marvels with genuine interest. My favorite essay in Ian Frazier’s “Gone to New York” is about “sandhogs” and their construction of the Holland Tunnel. If you at all identify OR are into conservation, there is an exhibition about 8 megaprojects being planned for by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, the MTA, and Port Authority. The show is shared by the New York City Transit Museum and The Science, Industry and Business Library.
@ Science, Industry and Business Library (188 Madison Avenue)
-City Water Tunnel No. 3
-Trans-Hudson Express Tunnel
-Water Filtration project
-World Trade Center Transportation Hub.
-East Side Access project
-Second Avenue Subway project
-Fulton Street Transit Center
-#7 Line West Side Subway Extension