Underground City

By Bryan • environment, travel, urban planning • 20 Feb 2009

I picked up a copy of Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us from Indigo’s books under $10 table.  I’m not sure what a book has to do to be heaved onto the $10 table…perhaps this is where former “International Bestsellers” go to spend their twilight years…next to the the Chicken Soup for the Atheist books.  Not quite the $2 “you are irrelevant and are taking up too much stock space” table, but not quite the at the head of the book line.  Perhaps the “has-been” table?

Either way, one cannot pass up an international bestseller for $10.  Actually, in a bout of honesty, I’ll say that that tag-line was probably the biggest reason I bought it.  The book is essentially a thought experiment regarding a hypothetical Earth completely without humans. This is exactly the kind of stuff one would expect to be sharing space in the $2 bin with alien conspiracy books, tell-all biographies of 90210 movie stars and anything on the Clinton Administration.

I secretly wanted to buy it regardless (call it a guilty pleasure regarding the apocalyptic), but ‘international bestseller!’  there must be some credibility to the premise -  how could I not buy it now!?

I haven’t been disappointed – it’s really good.  Well-written and well-researched. Relevant?  Meh…maybe, he talks a lot about historic climate changes and the immense way human ancestors changed their surrounding ecologies.  There is also considerable amounts of discussion regarding urban environments, so I can cheat myself into thinking that this could be useful to my upcoming profession.

A great example he used to highlight some potentially super-long lasting human settlements was the underground cities in Turkey.   known as the Derinkuyu Underground Cities,  these massive caverns were excavated during the 7th or 8th century BC and opened to the public in 1969

The city could be closed from inside with large stone doors. With storerooms and wells that made long stays possible, the city had air shafts which are up to 100 feet (30 m) deep. Derinkuyu is the largest excavated underground city in Turkey. The complex has a total 11 floors, though many floors have not been excavated. It has an area of 2,000 square feet, with a possible total area of 7,000 square feet (650 m2). Each floor could be closed off separately. The city was connected with other underground cities through miles of long tunnels. The city could accommodate between 3,000 and 50,000 people. (Answers.com)

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Yet another reason to visit Turkey!

Canada, of course – has it’s own underground city in Montreal, although I don’t think it was designed as a refuge against invading forces.

Probably one of the deepest man-made cities I’ve come across would be the Moscow Subway network.  When I was there I made a point of visiting the deepest station, Park Pobedy, which is 84 meters deep, complete with nuclear blast doors near the entrances.  Navigating up to the surface was quite the prolonged escalator journey.   

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3 Responses

  1. Nice! Absolute coolness!

  2. I’m not very familiar. There are underground caves…hmmm…this sounds more like coming out of a Lord of the Rings trilogy.

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