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New York Underground: The Anatomy of a City First Edition Edition

24 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415950138
ISBN-10: 0415950139
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Want to know what's amazing underneath New York City? Want to know about all the stuff that you'd never guess is below Manhattan, including everything from secret subway stations to cave crickets? Then start digging into Julia Solis' anatomical report on the Big Subterranean Apple, which is dark and deep and, despite eight million people living on top of it, largely unknown." - Robert Sullivan, Author of Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants

About the Author

Julia Solis is a writer and photographer who lives in New York City. She is the founder of two arts organizations: Dark Passage and Ars Subterranea, both of which are dedicated to exploring and exposing New York's underground passages.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; First Edition edition (November 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415950139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415950138
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 8.5 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,689,915 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Rosemarie S. on January 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great book for anyone interested in learning more about the Tunnels under New York City. Solis gives interesting accounts of the history behind each kind of tunnel and her own experiences exploring them. She warns that while popular fiction on this topic may be overly romanticized, she sticks solely with the FACTS. However, even thought I am a BIG fan of one such fictional account of the people living below New York City, the '80s TV series "Beauty & the Beast," I was still very much intrigued and amazed by her "real life" stories. Great pictures of the Tunnels found throughout the book as well.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Swystun on December 15, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having ordered this book from Amazon, I did not clue in that it was a large format, paperback, glossy book. I had expected the typical nonfiction book print treatment. This is not a negative just a heads up - it does lend itself to the photographs, maps and plans provided. It is an extremely interesting subterranean history but I would recommend it only for those who are fascinated with New York and/or tunnels and below ground architecture. The author's love of the subject and associated explorations shines throughout the book and that enthusiasm is passed to the reader.

I am a huge fan of the history of New York and this took my interest in a new direction...down. Solis takes us on journeys through the subway and train systems, underground passageways and the immense and sometime interlocking building foundations. The amazing stories that she "digs up" along the way hold interest and the accompanying photographs do not rob one's imagings of what it is like underground New York - they enhance the whole experience. It is also a history of the growth of New York and how strains on fresh water, transportation, electricity, and communications drove the need to tunnel and burrow. As well, it ably proves that 'progress is mostly the product of rogues' by telling the stories of the rich and the entrepreneurial who headed many of the large capital projects underground.

The opulence of some of the now abandoned or destroyed work is awesome. This includes City Hall Station closed since 1945, McAdoo station's vaulted ceilings, the incredible Pennsylvania Station (sad that it is gone), and Grand Central. The Chapter, The Lost Tunnel of Atlantic Avenue, reads like an Indiana Jones movie.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Beneze on November 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Excellent book if you are looking for the real stories behind (or below) the streets of NY. Nicely written. Sticks to the facts and the author's impressions of the scenes did not affect the character of the book. The photographs are amazing! If you want a good introduction into the NY underground this is the place to start.
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33 of 42 people found the following review helpful By D. N. Roth on January 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The book is an interesting look into the lost and forgotten places of the New York Underground. There is a lot of history presented by the author which is interesting and insightful.

However, after the book starts exploring the author's expeditions, it sort of becomes like watching a relative's slide show of their recent RV trip. The photographs become "Here I am in [x aqueduct]" and "Here I am in [x tunnel]." In other words, the book loses its focus on being informative, and rather focuses on the author herself.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Virginia music lover on February 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
My expectations for this book were exceeded, and those were high expectations to begin with. I thought the book would only be about major underground systems that are well known, such as the subways and train tunnels. This book has a lot more to offer. There is, for example, a section on tunnels beneath Chinatown and their use during the tong wars at the beginning of the 20th century. There are pieces on tunnels beneath specific buildings, such as Grand Central Terminal and Columbia University. The mystery of the Atlantic Avenue tunnel goes beyond well trod ground and discusses the search for a long lost train. The foundations created for the original World Trade Center are explained (and yes, there are picture of some of the subway tunnel destruction caused from 9/11). There are segments on gas pipes, the aqueduct system, telephone systems, etc. One is left with the impression that life below the street is almost as active as what goes on above the street. I highly recommend the book. Also, the author has a very good writing style. One commenter said the book was too much about the author. To me that made the book more enjoyable and put me into the action, as if I was part of the exploration team. For example, the recounting of taking a boat ride (and swimming) inside the Croton aqueduct was inspirational. Or, the meetup with the subway worker who talked about the subway beneath the Waldorf Astoria gave the book a human touch.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Grey Wolffe VINE VOICE on October 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
One of the great things about growing up in New York City was the ability to go to all sorts of places on the subway system. Unlike suburban kids who couldn't go more than a few blocks from their houses on their bikes, I got to explore most of Manhattan and parts of the rest of greater NY by myself after I turned eleven. I would ride out to my Granny's in Brooklyn and then continue on the train to Coney Island or the Rockaways. As I got older I would wander through some the abandoned 'City Hall' and 'Grand Central Station'. It was a wonderland of grottos, vaulted rooms and concourse.

Salis has done a first rate job of showing those parts of the underground that most people will never see. The color photos are especially delightful because they match the stories in the narrative. Though there is a bit too much of blowing her own horn, no one forces you to read the text and you could content yourself with just looking at the pictures.

Zeb Kantrowitz
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