I had no idea there’s so much past and future underneath our feet. This is the book you want to read first if you are ever curious about sub-surface human-made structures in mayor cities around the world. It has a lot of images, illustrations and maps that truly makes you appreciate and understand the magnitude of these magnificent structures.
Structures beneath our feet
Mark Ovenden’s book explores 32 cities with underground spaces. Some of them you might have heard of, like New York City’s underground subway and London’s multiple tunnels, but even from those, you are very likely to learn a lot of new things about them. Something that I really liked about this book, is how it feels like a virtual journey. It starts at Los Angeles and follows the International Date Line. I wont list all 32, but some cities mentioned in this book are Mexico City, Toronto, Madrid, Paris, Amsterdam, Oslo, Helsinki, Moscow, Beijing, Tokyo and Sydney.
When you read about the city in question, you get a quick glance at the origins of that piece of land. Way back in time to its foundation and how it evolved into becoming what it is today. I loved this. It’s like reading the biography of the land, focusing on what’s beneath it. It makes more sense the how and why of their underground structures once you learn about the city’s motivations and struggles.
Also, it is a great plus that this book contains a lot of visual elements. I can’t very well imagine how Chicago’s tunnels looked like back in 1924 but a black and white photo makes it ten times more real in my head. Also, a lot of illustrations were made by Robert Brandt, maps by Lovell Johns and a vertical ruler in meters (like those you see sometimes at science museums) for an easy graphical overview of the different structures of the city and their deepness.
The future of underground structures
Our journey to the past and present of what lies beneath our feet doesn’t end here. There’s also very interesting information about future plans and projects currently being developed for these underground areas. Did you now that in 2014 an enterprise bought an underground area which now produces hydroponic fresh micro greens and salad leaves 33 meters (108ft) below Clapham’s street in London?..
I truly enjoyed reading this book and learning a bit more about the past, present and future of our cities and their underground spaces. I would recommend this book to those interested about urban structures, historical storytelling and anyone who, like me, enjoy learning more about the world around us. If you have a relative who enjoys watching History Channel, I think this would make a great present.