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Under New York: 03/06/16

Under New York by Linda Oatman High

My research into the road trip narrative took a detour in June when I started wondering about the numerous stories that take place under the streets and buildings of Manhattan. I'm not talking the pedestrian inclusion of the subway, but rather those tales of monsters, people, or ghosts residing down in the forgotten recesses of the Big Apple.

As cities grew too large in their outwards expansion, too large to contain traffic and to manage the flow of people and goods throughout, they had to find another way to accommodate the influx of people. There are two ways to go: up and down. Like a well established forest, the city has numerous layers of root systems.

To fully understand the road trip narrative and it's rural vs urban dichotomy, one must think three dimensionally. For every horizontal road trip story, there is a vertical one, and one that is often subterranean.

Under New York by Linda Oatman High is a picture book that investigates the different strata of New York City. The book is told as a typical day in the city with a "bet you didn't know" type approach.

Besides the subway, the city has these other things underground:

The layers of New York

  • 0-30 feet: water pipes, gas lines, steam pipes, telephone lines, fiber optic cable, electrical power lines
  • 30-200 feet: subways and sewers
  • 200+ feet: A new water tunnel

Four stars

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