A compact and congested city center sits atop a spaghetti pile of underground pipes and wires and more.
Here are ten things you might find below the pavement in Manhattan:
- Con Edison’s 105 miles of steam pipes heating nearly 2,000 buildings. (Take care – it’s 350 degree heat!)
- Water mains. Many lead to buildings. Others to fire hydrants or drinking fountains.
- Electrical conduits and telecommunications infrastructure.
- Natural gas mains. Beware of the pressure.
- Sewage pipes. These have to run downhill in the end.
- Storm drainage. Ditto.
- Underground storage tanks containing things like Freon or fuel oil or industrial chemicals. Who knows what else.
- History, from cobblestones and Colonial foundations to bottles and bones.
- Passenger and freight train tunnels. Think PATH, Metro North, and the Long Island Rail Road when they roll into Penn and Grand Central stations.
- Subway tubes and stations and the air vents that support them. The city has 275 fully underground stations.
What’s actually down there often remains a mystery, even to public and utility officials. What happens when a corroded pipe bursts?