New York City: Web Links, Books, and Research and Reference Materials.

Links and Internet Resources

http://www.panix.com/~christos/underground.html This is a non-site, just a couple of pictures. But for the sake of completeness...

www.darkpassage.com A couple people who organize tours every so often. Not really anything on their website, but if you're they're good people to know of.

TV Shows/Documentaries

In 1999, there was a show broadcast-- the information can be gleaned from these emails: us_nyc_ny_resources1.txt, us_nyc_ny_resources2.txt, us_nyc_ny_resources3.txt


New York Underground (VIDEO) Written & Produced by Elena Mannes ; an Elena Mannes Productions, Inc. film for The American experience ; WGBH Boston. PBS Home Video, c1997.

  • Butler Media Reserves VIDEO TF847.N48 N48 1997

A 60-minute video that was shown by PBS. A terrible piece of uninformative, tiresome film. A few interesting pictures of the subway construction and such, but mostly a bland hash of NY history stories that should be old hat to anyone who has read anything about the subway.


Books (non-fiction)

Toth, Jennifer. The Mole People Life in the Tunnels beneath New York City. Chicago Review Press, Chicago, 1993

  • Columbia Libraries HV4506.N6 T68 1993

This book is sensationalist shit with some great pictures and great interviews and lotsa stories that would be great if you didn't have to take them with the whole salt shaker. Joe Brennan (yep, the great guy who did that wonderful list of abandoned NYC subway stations) has a review that he calls "fantasy in The Mole People" at http://www.cc.columbia.edu/~brennan/rails/mole-people.html


Morton, Margaret (PHOTOS) The Tunnel: the underground homeless of New York City. New Haven, CT Yale University Press, c1995.

  • Barnard, Social Work HV4506.N6 M67 1995

Morton's book is a wonderful photo essay on those who dwelt in the Riverside Park Tunnel (now Amtrak Tunnel) in NYC, how they lived, the great murals in the place, and the tunnel itself. The excellent photos in The Mole People are from her oeuvre, and all appear in this book.


Greenberg, Stanley (PHOTOS) Hidden New York. 1999.

  • Avery, Fine Arts, NH32 G82 G82

Greenberg takes beautiful pictures of the hidden, abandoned, forgotten spaces in the city. This book focused on the industrial archeology in the city; powerplants, suspension bridges, and a bit of water supply. He is planning on coming out with another book on the water system itself. The pictures are great, high-res and detailed. He insists for some reason on only using availible light, but the resultant clarity and depth from the long exposures is wonderful. However, the book doesn't have many pictures in it, and he doesn't tell much of anything about the sites.


Jones, Pamela. Under the City Streets. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, New York, 1978.

  • Avery library, Ware and Avery collections, HD 2767 .N75 N74

New-York specific. She talks about the multitudinous layers of utilities and facilities that are-- you guessed it-- under the city streets. She follows each issue from its technological/historical foundations-- for water supply she goes back to the founding of NY, for electric she goes back to Edison. A nice explication of steam technology, and some great maps-- esp. the Viele-MacCoun Water Map, which shows the location of streams that may (or may not) run underneath buildings today.


Granick, Harry. Underneath New York. Originally published 1947. New publication, with an introduction by Robert Sullivan: New York: Fordham University Press, 1991.

  • Butler Stacks, TD25.N6 G7 1991

New-York Specific as well. Very similar to Under the City Streets but with less relevant industrial info. Jones seems to take a lot of her underground stories from him though. The Sullivan intro is excellent.


Books (fiction)

McCann, Colum. This Side of Brightness. London : Phoenix House, 1997 (first edition). New York : Henry Holt & Company, 1998 (first American edition).

  • Butler Stacks and Barnard PR6063.C335 T48 1998b

This novel follows two characters-- One was part of the crew to dig the original east river subway tunnel at the turn of the century; and the other, his grandson, worked the high steel putting up the World Trade Center. The grandson (Treefrog) now lives in the Riverside Park Amtrak Tunnel (which his grandfather also helped build.) The novel is imbued with an incredible sense of New York's infrastructure development and is laced throughout with tunnel metaphors, tunnel stories, etc. He brings in all sorts of fun stuff, too-- the famous tunnel blowout, for example, where a digger got sucked into the mud and geysered out of the river still alive, here is a three-person, one-fatality fountain. Racial oppression is a key element of the story, and McCann ties it into the physical elements a lá Ralph Ellison. Unfortunately, McCann is awfully heavy-handed, which he shows whenever he tries to make his characters sympathetic. But even his heavy hand can't begin to dampen the resonance of 90 years and three generations of NYC tunnelers.


Daly, Michael. Underground: a novel

The name has such promise but this is just a human-in-new-york story that happens to be about a NYC subway cop. It's not even very good.


Articles/Stories

National Geographic had an article about the New York Underground in the February 1997 issue, starting on p. 110. The article is by Joel Swerdlow, photos by Bob Sacha. There are some fantastic pictures and nice cutaway drawings of the layers, but not much real information that you wouldn't already know.



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