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E Modernizing an old home. 0 lust interested. Name Address City or Town State © A. It. Co. 1936 SEP-7-11 LISTEN INIAmericanRadiatorFiresideRecital...every Sunday 7:30 P.M. E.D.S.T. WEAF-NBC Network (Continued from Page 54) Central Park West, there was an inundation so swift that 5000 gallons of water a minute had to be pumped out to keep the excavation dry. A few of these underground streams still flow very close to the surface; so close that the Lenox Avenue subway crosses a subterranean bridge over one of them at 112th Street. The sewers of Paris, thanks to Victor Hugo, are famous the world over. No glamorous legend has publicized the sewers of New York, but in imaginative engineering they can hardly be matched. Those in Manhattan are required to carry off a tremendous amount of waste water—about 150 gallons a day for each inhabitant—in addition to excess rainfall, but difficulties are almost unknown. Both the new sewers, made now of reinforced concrete, and the old ones, made of brick, are of generous size—so large that crews of inspection men could travel through them by boat. The main arteries are seven feet high and sixteen feet wide. Generally they are about twelve feet below ground, but there are some as deep as seventy feet. One of the most interesting of the old-time sewers lies beneath Canal Street. Part of it is just the ancient canal closed over and roofed with a street. There for the first time masonry was used for this type of construction, and the workmanship is so fine that there is hardly room for a pin between the stones. The Caverns of Gotham In general, the sewers follow the natural contours, so that, in Manhattan, Central Park is the great divide that determines whether drainage shall flow to the Hudson or to the East River. At the river edge the refuse is poured into barrel sewers, made of wooden staves and hung beneath the piers, which carry it toward midstream so that the shore line will not be polluted. Subway excavations and subbaserhents and localities where the sump is low complicate the problem. Where subways cut through the sewer arteries, either siphons are built down under the tracks and up again, or manifolds of small pipes carry the water through the subway roof. The subbasements of the big buildings are often so far below sewer level that it is necessary to pump the drain water to a level where it will flow by gravity. The subbasements themselves are well worth investigation. In many of the skyscraper buildings they go down four or five stories below street level, and hundreds of people, functioning always under artificial light and supported by artificial ventilation, are employed there. The old Hotel Belmont, now demolished, had the deepest subbasement in New York, but the caverns of the financial district aren't far behind. There are the great bank vaults, caches for millions and billions in gold and paper, impregnable to human vandals, and impervious to everything except acts of God. The walls and floors of these marble caverns are interlaid with armor plate, which would effectively check any attempt to tunnel in. There are alarm signals everywhere, mirrors at each turn of the corridors, and so much hard, brilliant light that not even the smallest corner can achieve a restful shadow. Not many years ago, the Brooklyn Bridge over the East River and fleets of buglike ferryboats were the only answers to the traffic problem of Manhattan's isolation from Long Island and New Jersey. Since that time the Hudson has been spanned, three more bridges cross the East River and a fourth one is building. But even more has happened. There are today twentytwo traffic tunnels beneath the rivers. The Pennsylvania Railroad has two under the Hudson and four under the East River. The subways tunnel the East River many times. There are the four Hudson-Manhattan Railroad tubes, built by William Gibbs McAdoo, under the Hudson, and the two Holland tunnels, through which vehicular traffic moves. A vehicular tube at 39th Street is not yet completed. These were all projects so majestic and spectacular that,. even in the fading light of accomplished fact, they must stir in the bones of confirmed defeatists a shiver at the intrepidity of man's intelligence. Sunless Commuting These tunnels bring a great many people into Manhattan. It has been frequently said, and without much exaggeration, that during two periods of the day—the morning and evening rush hours—there are almost as many people below ground as above. Hundreds of thousands are in the subways and in the commuters' trains departing for the other boroughs of the city, for Long Island and New Jersey and Westchester County and Connecticut. New York's two railroad terminals are, in themselves, as much of a miracle as we are likely to see in these difficult days. The Pennsylvania Terminal is unique in that it is the only project of its kind which involved river tunneling. It cost $150,000,000 before it was completed in 1910. Its passengers never see sunlight from the time they leave New Jersey until they rise from the lower level of 32nd Street, walk through the station and come abruptly upon New York. It is also the outgoing station for the endless commuter trains of the Long Island Railroad. The Grand Central development is more than a station. It is a rabbit warren, a prairie-dog town. Two railroads, the New York Central and the New York, New Haven and Hartford, pour 93,000 arriving and departing passengers in there daily. Some 60,000 nonpassengers pass through the station in a twenty-four-hour period, most of them from subways connecting with it. Five hundred trains enter and leave every day on two below-street levels. There are forty-one tracks on one level and thirty-nine on the other. In these days when the sleekness.of Park Avenue is known to every hamlet that owns a movie camera, it is something of a job to convince the visualminded that until the Grand Central development was completed in 1913, Park Avenue wasn't like that at all. Park Avenue ended at 42nd Street and didn't take up again until 49th. In that space were the noisome New York Central yards. The smoke nuisance had been abated by a state law, but the yards stood there in the heart of the city like a raw and horrid scar. The yards still exist, but by engineering legerdemain they have been lowered into the ground. When the motorist swings over Grand Central on the ramp, through the decorative claws of the New York Central Building, and onto Park Avenue, he is traveling on a street that is only a bridge over the hollowness beneath. Below him are acres of trains and tracks and miles of signal system. The hollowness extends over to Madison Avenue on one side and Lexington Avenue on the other, and covers seventy-nine acres in all. This accounts for the fact that many buildings in that section are resting, not on concrete foundations but on steel stilts. The Waldorf-Astoria is one of them. Their supports go down between the tracks to the solid rock, where they rest on lead plates designed to act as shock absorbers for the vibration of the trains. These stilts usually extend fifty to sixty feet below the street. There may be, although I haven't met them, two or three taxicab drivers in New York who can't be lost in the five boroughs. But there are, I am sure, no guides who know all about the tunnels, the caverns, the underground passages of New York. Immediately after the ticker-tape celebration which greeted Admiral Byrd when he flew the Atlantic, an indignant taxpayer wrote to the editor of a metropolitan newspaper, protesting that parades were a lot of nonsense and that, with a very important engagement in view, it had been quite impossible for him to cross from one side of lower Broadway to the other side for a period of an hour Or so. The citizen announced proudly that he had solved the matter by taking the West Side subway at Wall and William streets, changing at Chambers Street and coming downtown again on the South Ferry branch of the same railroad. This involved maneuver finally landed him, after a walk of two blocks, precisely across the street. Unknown New York The editor of the newspaper was cavalier about the plight of the old subscriber, and unimpressed by his transit ingenuity. The editor pointed out that if the subscriber had stirred himself out of his office to follow the callowest of messenger boys in the financial district, he would have known that there is an underground passage from 120 Broadway on the downtown side to 111 Broadway on the uptown side. Forty people who spent most of their lives in the financial district wrote the editor during the next few days, thanking him for his information. They had never known the underground passage was there. There is one secret place beneath ground in New York where a man could live comfortably, hide from his enemies, and conceal his treasure without ever being discovered. It is not recorded on any official map, and only one man knows about it. He is a prominent engineer employed by the city. The secret place is twelve feet high, seven feet wide and 150 feet b. e reached by a mansixty It came into being in a strange longg ye .I t can i There is a subway under the street in question. The city decided to raise the grade of the street, and research determined that the subway roof couldn't stand the weight of twelve more feet of dirt. As a result, an inviolate preserve was constructed out of steel pillars—a house between the surface and the subway. There is one little drawback to the story of the secrett ip lace. The engineer won't tell where it is. He says he plans to use it (a) when the revolution comes, (b) to escape from the people who take straw votes, (c) as a sanctuary for a misanthropic old age. And, anyway, if he told where it was, it wouldn't be a secret any longer. There would be hardboiled eggs and picnic baskets there in the morning.
1936_07_11--010_SP Underground Empire
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