The Dig Will Never End

  • Despite being hidden underground, the subway system, and metropolitan underground world in general, has been subject of great interest by new generations of urban explorers, including writers, photographers, urban historians, bloggers or any amateur who spent his or her time down city’s crust. Over the last time many blogs have featured underground exploration, so I think it is worth to present a sample of the different experiences you can find around the subways.

    If you are looking for an exciting, transgressive and adventurous novel, you may check out what Dsankt and his friends of SleepyCity have been doing for the past few years in Paris Underground. You will find an intense, passionate writing of the subway nightlife of a romantic European capital, featuring a rich photographic documentation:

    “We took a few careful paces into the tunnel then hastily retreated back to the safety of our discreet entrance and back up the ladders up to street level. Our initial forays were short and clearly we had no fucking idea what we were doing but that taste was like a dirty needle in the arm of pure adventure crack. It was enough to get us hooked and we craved it constantly like two dirty fiends. Over the next few years we were enslaved to this addiction like only those who grew up in a city deprived of metro could be.”

    If you prefer something in the shape of a documentary, I suggest you to check out Andrew Wonder’s video in which he follows Steve Duncan on his lovely trip through New York’s hidden infrastructure, helping him solving the puzzle of “multi-dimensional history and complexity of the great metropolises in the world”. His explorations are worth some National Geographic gold medal and have already been featured in various publications, while his blog is a rich source of links and references.

    Last but not least, if you feel a bit lazy and scared about these crazy, illegal trips, but at the same time want to experience one yourself, you might try out the Berlin U-Bahn Night-Time Tunnel Ride, an organized journey of discovery through Berlin’s metro tunnels, in an open carriage moving at the speed of 35 km/h. But be quick: trips for the entire year 2010 were already fully booked months ago!

    Apparently, the German capital has a rich tradition of organized underground explorations. A Society for Exploration and Documentation of Subterranean Architecture has already been created years ago:

    “In the autumn of 1997, a few enthusiasts got together in order to explore this subterranean world. The organization they founded, the ‘Berlin Underworlds Association’, locates and documents such hidden installations, making some of them accessible to the public.”

    Besides guided tours, the organization also organizes theater shows, exhibitions, performances and concerts. All underground.