Strange urban stories: Does being underground make a city spooky?


18fa5b9030f38da04008201a67723465-d5wdmnwThe perils of the good headline are obvious in this Guardian piece:  Spooky cities – the world’s strangest underground cities, in pictures.

It’s not hard to understand the temptation (and often, the hard reality of a slow newsday) to do a list – the best, the worst, most beautiful, ugliest, most functional city, easiest to get around and so on.

I’m not sure how you decide a city is “spooky”. The Guardian seems to feel that anything below the ground constitutes spookiness and its spooky-o-meter swings wildly when it comes bunkers below Berlin, malls under Montreal and even an enormous nuclear fall-out shelter in the Swiss municipality of Sonnenberg.

But I’m not sure there’s anything spooky or even remotely weird about any of these:

– That Berlin is one of the most extensive subterranean cities in the world.

– That the tiny underground town of Matmata in southern Tunisia provided Bedouin residents with respite from the scorching desert sun.

– That the Jurong Rock Caverns – 150 acres of prime real estate in Singapore, 100 metres underground – are used to house 4,200 scientists.

– That SubTropolis, Kansas City, a 1,100-acre underground storage facility is where the US Postal Service keeps its collectible stamp collection.

Jack Kerouac

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life”
– Jack Kerouac