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Thread: Treasures underfoot: what hidden gems does your city boast?

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    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Treasures underfoot: what hidden gems does your city boast?

    I read recently a story in the NYTimes about an old underground railroad tunnel from the 1840's that has been unearthed. This is a REAL railroad tunnel, not the euphemistic safe house for escaping slaves. Its located under Atlantic Avenue and was sealed up around 1900. One guy believes there is still an original wood-burning locomotive under there as well.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/15/ny...=1&ref=thecity

    The tunnel, built in 1844 by the Long Island Rail Road, ceased operation before the Civil War. But it has inspired stories about everything from German spies to lady pirates and bootleg booze…Mr. Diamond is pursuing plans to dig up an abandoned wood-burning locomotive he believes is hidden behind a wall under Atlantic Avenue and Hicks Street.
    This reminded me of some other stories I have read. Like Burlington, Britain. Built in the 1950s in a former stone quarry, Burlington covers 240 acres and has a network of around 60 miles of roads. It was built as a survival city in the event of a nuclear war: http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com...ound-city/5162

    Code named Burlington, the immense city was set to be the seat of the emergency Government during the war; should nukes be involved. Created to house the Prime Minister of the time, Harold McMillan, the entire Cabinet Office, civil servants and any support staff, the hidden city could accommodate up to 4,000 personnel, but, unfortunately, not their families. Apparently, the site was so secret that many of the workers had no idea they were allocated a desk.
    Or how about Derinkuyu and its ancient underground safehouse city in Turkey: http://coilhouse.net/2008/12/19/unde...nto-derinkuyu/

    Spelunking archeologists found a maze of connecting chambers that descended at least 18 stories and 280 feet beneath the surface, ample enough to hold 30,000 people – and much remains to be excavated. One tunnel, wide enough for three people walking abreast, connects to another underground town six miles away. Other passages suggest that at one time all of Cappadocia, above and below the ground, was linked by a hidden network.
    Oh, oh, and the secret city underneath Leavenworth, Kansas that may have been used during prohibition: http://www.propeller.com/story/2008/...erground-city/

    For years, residents of Leavenworth, Kansas, have been unknowingly walking around above an underground city, and no one seems to know who created it or why. Windows, doors, and narrow paths beneath a title company at South Fourth and Delaware streets lead to storefronts stretching several city blocks and perhaps beyond.
    This site has pics and stories from a few other similar forgotten places: http://www.undercity.org/photos/photos.htm

    This got me thinking about what other hidden treasures might lie beneath our cities. Does your city have any secret tunnels, gangster hideouts, or the like? Was it built on top some other older city or settlement? Hollow mountains? Secret silos? Have at it.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    I was always disappointed that Buffalo didn't have much to offer urban explorers of the spelunking persuasion. There's the Scajaquada Creek tunnel, which buried a large, flood-prone creek through the East Side of the city. There's two lesser-known buried creeks in Buffalo, Cornelius Creek and Hamburg Creek (Buffao's old millrace). I've seen no documentation of any urbex for either of them.

    There's the Tunnel of Tears, a tunnel connecting the county courthouse with the holding center. There's other short tunnels downtown, such as one that connects a former department store with its warehouse across the street. No labyrinthine networks, unfortunately.

    There's the very little-know Leroy Avenue Station on Metro Rail. It's an emergency station with stairs to the surface.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian cellophane's avatar
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    not exactly underfoot, but we do have Waverly Hills Sanatorium here.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian azmodela's avatar
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    There's the Seattle Underground Tour...

    The old store fronts from when the raised the city in the 1800's. It's pretty cool and well preserved.

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    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    I was always disappointed that Buffalo didn't have much to offer urban explorers of the spelunking persuasion. There's the Scajaquada Creek tunnel, which buried a large, flood-prone creek through the East Side of the city. There's two lesser-known buried creeks in Buffalo, Cornelius Creek and Hamburg Creek (Buffao's old millrace). I've seen no documentation of any urbex for either of them.

    There's the Tunnel of Tears, a tunnel connecting the county courthouse with the holding center. There's other short tunnels downtown, such as one that connects a former department store with its warehouse across the street. No labyrinthine networks, unfortunately.

    There's the very little-know Leroy Avenue Station on Metro Rail. It's an emergency station with stairs to the surface.
    Hamburg Creek is probably in South Buffalo, but where is/was Cornelius Creek?

  6. #6
    We've got caves galore to the west of us, all said to be part of the Mammoth cave complex. We take the kids out there from time to time.

    On this side of the Ohio River we have some tunnels that are legit parts of the Underground Railroad. I've been under one church that had a place for fugitive slaves to hide and it's the real deal.

    Off-topic:
    A guy the next block over from my home insisted his historic home had a trap door system that led to a tunnel that crosses the main drag here to another home across the street. This he said was evidence of the home's place in URR lore. The problem? Positively no evidence of a tunnel and his home was built in 1888.
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
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    Cyburbian Tom R's avatar
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    Akron

    Akron has the Civic Theater, an original 1929 Lowes "atmospheric" theater with the original Whirlitzer organ.
    WALSTIB

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    Cyburbian Plus
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    Portion of the Erie & Ohio Canal still buried.
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    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
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    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Dallas has a pretty good network of tunnels with some above-ground links with enclosed pedestrian bridges in the CBD. They're not secret but it's easy not to know that they are there. Many people have worked downtown for years and don't know about them. Some even have shops and restaurants in them. The tunnels are to Dallas summer pedestrian travel as their northern counterparts in cities like Minneapolis and Des Moines are to the winter. Lifesavers!
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

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    Cyburbian Jakers's avatar
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    Cincinnati Subway

    Cincinnati has a complete subway system underneath the city, stations and all, but no subway. Here is a link

    http://www.cincinnati-transit.net/subway.html

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    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I had an English teacher in Middle School that lived in an old Underground Railroad (the euphemistic one this time) home in Springfield, PA. It had lots of hidden areas in the basement. She had all kinds of strange experiences in that home which, being a former Minister, she could not, or would not, admit was haunted. I interviewed her years later after the family had moved out and she admitted that her faith could not explain all the crazy experiences they had. She still couldn't utter the word "ghost" but the stories she told were pretty intense.

    Also, where I grew up outside of Philadelphia, there were lots of storm sewer tunnels that drained road runoff into many nearby creeks. As kids, we used to explore these tunnels and move around the neighborhood like spies. It was good fun and its a good thing we never encountered any sudden runoff!

    And the storm sewer memory reminded me of being in Uganda in 1993. I lived there for a year and a half and during that time there was a major bank heist perpetrated by a group of street kids (homeless kids living in Kampala). They orchestrated this amazing robbery whereby they distracted an armed guard moving a large bag of cash from a bank to a truck by slapping him and taking the bag while he was stunned. Several other kids nearby had similar sacks which they threw this way and that as they ran. No one could figure out which one had the cash and in the confusion, they all disappeared down the storm sewers with a few hundred thousand dollars in cash! They were never caught...

    And this place isn't underground, but the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia is a very cool former prison-turned-museum. They maintain the space in arrested decay and the photo ops alone are worth a visit: http://www.easternstate.org/
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    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    And this place isn't underground, but the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia is a very cool former prison-turned-museum. They maintain the space in arrested decay and the photo ops alone are worth a visit: http://www.easternstate.org/
    Haven't had time to visit on my infrequent trips back to Michigan but the prison in Jackson has been converted to artist studios and lofts.

    http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/8282
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

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    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    1,200 feet below the streets of Detroit, we have 50 some miles of roads covering 1,400 acres of salt mines.
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    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    No big underground stuff here in Atlanta. We do not have the soil (Georgia red clay) nor the history to create these types of wonders. At least to my knowledge.
    Satellite City Enabler

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    Cyburbian cellophane's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jakers View post
    Cincinnati has a complete subway system underneath the city, stations and all, but no subway. Here is a link

    http://www.cincinnati-transit.net/subway.html

    neat!! louisville used to have a relatively big train network but it disappeared after the war like most transit networks...

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Plan-it View post
    No big underground stuff here in Atlanta. We do not have the soil (Georgia red clay) nor the history to create these types of wonders. At least to my knowledge.
    What? I thought most streets in downtown Atlanta are actually second level streets, raised 90 or so years ago to bridge the many railroad tracks that criss-crossed the CBD. Underground Atlanta is supposedly only a very small part of the city's underground.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    The water table in FL is so high, you don't have basements unless you're around Tallahassee and then they are rare. Nothing underground here. Although there is a cool house built into a hill off I-75 a couple of counties north of Tampa.

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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    There's so much weird stuff in NJ that there is a website, magazine, and books called Weird NJ. I mean where to even start!
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    There was a 100' long tunnel that connected a (formerly) rural turn of the century home to a detached garage. It was supposedly constructed for 'emergency' use use by one (1) bootlegger named Al Capone. I suppose it could be true.

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    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    We have underground rivers that run through our historic downtown and feed into the infamous Cape Fear River.

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    A common term around here when lunch break is over is: "Well back to the old salt mine!" This is due largely to the salt deposits found along the ancient sea that connected lakes Huron and Erie. You find large mining operations along both the Detroit and St. Clair rivers. These mines as I understand it, are massive.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  22. #22
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    This is going more after the cultural underground than physical, but Austin would like to think of itself as being an underground/hidden gem, despite the fact that it's one of the trendiest cities in the U.S. Perhaps it was one 30 years ago, but for the most part that all left in the 90's. Now it's just useless marketing slogans about Austin being "weird". Well, the hippie communes around town are somewhat odd, I suppose. Other than that (which few are actually left)...

    The only "underground" Oklahoma City can claim is a successful underground music scene. I think OKC has some underground tunnels downtown, but they're nowhere near as widespread or used as Dallas' or Houston's or the connectors in northern cities like Minneapolis.

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    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Best I can think of is a few prohibition era tunnels from the whorehouse basements to the speakeasys. Errr. maybe vise-versa.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Around here there aren't any large structures underground (to my knowledge), but there are often cool things found when excavations for new buildings, roads, or utilities are done. There are also some pretty cool shipwrecks just off the coast of SF in every direction.

    A couple years ago during excavation for a new condo tower, a whaling ship from 1818 was found, almost completely intact:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...&sn=047&sc=553

    There are also some cool discoveries made every time that something new is built in the Marina District, which itself was created using debris from the 1906 earthquake to fill in marshlands.
    Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, but three lefts do.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    There was a 100' long tunnel that connected a (formerly) rural turn of the century home to a detached garage. It was supposedly constructed for 'emergency' use use by one (1) bootlegger named Al Capone. I suppose it could be true.
    Similar story here in the DFW area of a bootleg/gambling establishment with escape tunnel for the patrons. The property is now owned by a bible college.

    http://www.wfaa.com/sharedcontent/dw...1.4aa6965.html
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

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