“All this infrastructure was forced underground not through some grand plan that can easily be sorted out but rather through two centuries of competition and compromise as the value of New York’s surface space increased and the streets grew more crowded. Taken as a whole, underground New York is an incoherent three-dimensional space that defies simple visualization—a single understanding, at least somewhere in someone’s mind. When I mentioned this to Steve Duncan, who is one of underground New York’s most persistent explorers, and who would have such a visualization if anyone could, he said, ‘Yeah, you’re right. I used to think there’s gotta be someone who knows what’s going on, but more and more it seems like the answer is no.’”

-What lies beneath New York City? William Langewiesche explored for Vanity Fair. Read more on New York from the Longreads Archive.


Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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