Underground cities
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Date: Sun, 13 Sep 1998 15:23:35 -0700
From: Phil A Posehn

If you are going to be doing anything involving ghouls in an upcoming book please let me know. Sacramento, (where I reside) is unique in that it has an entire underground city hidden beneath the downtown area that has been sealed off and abandoned since the "60s.

The street level was raised a long time ago because of flooding and the old street levels of the stores became basements. There were still streets and sidewalks there in use though. Shoppers would use them during inclement weather. When the new malls killed the old shopping districts the underground citiy was slowly abandoned and sealed off as the department stores above relocated. When the downtown area was brought lurching back to life in the late '80s the old underground was forgotten by all but a few…and the homeless population, of course. Every so often when a new building is erected the old city is exposed.


Date: Sun, 13 Sep 1998 20:37:14 -0400 (EDT)
From: John Petherick
Several cities have a "forgotten" underground.

Toronto has at least two unused subway stations for lines that were never built. The only use of these is for movie sets (Johnny Mnemonic, among others). Also, when Toronto was being developed several of the ravines leading down to Lake Ontario were filled in, the streams being roofed over and turned into sewers. In at least one of these, the houses built along the stream were buried also and are supposedly accessible from the sewer.

"Reliquary … Sequel to the NEW YORK TIMES bestseller RELIC!" by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child has a pretty detailed description of underground New York. This, and the citation of the book that they borrowed the information from, are probably the only reasons to pick up this piece of pseudo-science techno-thriller trash. My personal favorite - since the sewer beasts are sensitive to sunlight and (somehow) Vitamin D is toxic to them, therefore, the scientist female lead arms herself with one liter of Vitamin D in solution which has an effect on the beasts like holy water on a vampire.

If you are interested, the citation is "The Mole People" by Jennifer Toth (Chicago Review Press, 1993). It is supposed to describe the culture of the homeless who have moved into the underground.


From: Shane Ivey
Date: Mon, 14 Sep 1998 17:13:05 EDT
I lived in Sacramento for about ten years, 1979-1988. I seem to remember around 1984-1985 seeing a section of curiosity shops downtown that boasted about the underground construction. I can't remember if they offered tours or just talked about it to help sell cowboy hats. I wish I had paid better attention, but I was 15, antisocial, and forced to on one of those family night things, so I spent most of the time sulking. In retrospect it might have been pretty cool.

« If you are interested, the citation is "The Mole People" by Jennifer Toth (Chicago Review Press, 1993). It is supposed to describe the culture of the homeless who have moved into the underground. »

"The Mole People" is a *very* nice find. I got very inspired from it, and it directly inspired certain aspects of my current campaign. Mr. Detwiller may have other favorites along the same subject if he feels like sharing. ;-) He's done a little more reading on the underground than have I.


From: moc.emoh|uhluhtcrd#moc.emoh|uhluhtcrd
Date: Thu, 17 Sep 1998 09:23:10 +0000
Seattle also has an extensive underground section, and they give tours, I suggest either going on a tour with only your friends, or go early in the morning, its most Eire when there is steam spewing forth from the sewer grates, and it froths in to the opening of the tunnels you are entering. it also cool to ask to see if you can get a one-on-one tour, then they give you more flexibility, but you have to pay a lot more. It was a great tour.


Date: Thu, 17 Sep 1998 12:09:29 -0700 (PDT)
From: Jeff Campbell

Most of the northwest cities had some sort of underground. I know that Portland, Corvallis, and Salem had parts that were underground. It was a strategy to avoid the feet of mud that would build up on dirt roads in horse and buggy days. In Corvallis ther are translucent blue stones still set into the side walks for light below.


From: Christian Conkle
Date: Thu, 17 Sep 1998 13:39:08 -0700
As somewhat of an expert on the Portland, OR tunnel system (I did extensive research two years ago for another game), I can tell you that:

1. There WERE tunnels under Portland, dug by Chinese immigrants to connect their cellars to the docks.

2. Often, crimpers (kidnappers) would use the tunnels to transport their victims to ships heading out to sea. Supposedly, rings found driven in walls were used to chain shanghaid people to the walls, though more likely it was for temporary storage of livestock.

3. It has been rumored that the tunnels were used by Opium smugglers. This is pure conjecture.

4. Supposedly, the ghost of an elderly Chinese man who lived down there haunted the tunnels. An old mattress and some carved wooden trinkets found in the 70's were cited as proof that an old chinese man DID live down there. Again, this is conjecture.

5. Most of the tunnels are now gone. They were built over by new buildings and or collapsed over time. Most of the surviving tunnels only go for 20 or 30 feet and were used for storage by old businesses that don't exist anymore. Most of the stuff found in them is now trash.

6. A dubious Portland personality (who later skipped town with all kinds of embezzled money) promoted the tunnels and made up most of the aforementioned conjecture in the 70's. Most of the misconceptions about the Portland tunnels can be attributed to him.

7. Most West Coast cities feature similar transport tunnels. Most probably in the same state of disrepair.


From: "Matt C"
Date: Thu, 17 Sep 1998 20:51:29 -0500

As another listmember (cough) can attest, during the early 1800's, during the Barbary Coast days there was all sorts of nefarious stuff going on along the west coast. Additionally, through out the Midwest and east coast, along the 'underground railroad' of slavery times, secret tunnels and rooms were often employed. Just food for thought.


From: Marco
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 03:49:47 -0500 (CDT)
I used to (sometimes) go to a game shop in Norwich, England (on Elm Hill Road), which had a 14th century floor, and an entrance to a tunnel down a short flight of stone steps. Seems there is a complex of passages under the city.

The game shop used to be a pub. Their passage led to (among other places) the site of a monastary (I think the monastary is gone now), and the clerics apparently used to sneak off at night to have a few pints.

There is also a pub in town called "the Murderers," which has a sign with a couple of sinister cloaked figures on it.

Norwich castle has a nice museum too.


Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 16:24:29
From: Davide Mana
Most European towns have an undergroung complex of sorts, the most famous being London (shades of Fu Manchu), Paris, Rome and, of course, Turin.

Here in Turin, the situation is rather complex, as we deal with various generations of Underground Passages. A short summary follows…

Generation 0
Underground temples of Pre-Roman/Early Roman have been described by various authors (contemporary sources) in what later became the perimeter of the early city.

Generation 1
Roman Sewers System - a square-grid network of channels, 0.60 m (2 feet) wide and 1.60 m (5.3 feet) high, currently running about three meters under the city pavements in the central area of town. The channels run North-South and East-West, draining towards the northeast.

Generation 2a
Defensive System from the XVI century - a multi-lever (probably 4 levels) series of mine and countermine galleries, at an average depth of 25 meters, escavated as part of the project of the Turin Citadel. Said galleries, about 1 m wide (3 feet) and 1.8 m high (6 feet) spread out from the Citadel (now in central Turin) and extend to a maximum of 2 kms in each direction. The exact number of mine and countermine galleries is unknown.

Generation 2b
Utility structures like Ice Chambers and subterranean mill channels were built in various locations through what is currently the center of town (and back then was the whole town), at a depth of 2 to 10 meters. These structures are concentrated along the banks of the Po and Dora rivers and in the old market area, but all major buildings can be assumed to have one or more independent subterranean ice chambers.

Generation 3
Town Restructuration, XVII-XVIII century - all the new buildings in the Turin area were built so that the basements were interconnected, to grant a covered passage for servants and handymen. This network was later (XX c.) modified, putting doors or wals in the passages for safety reasons.

Generation 4 - possibly apocriphal
According to popular belief, all the Savoy Royal buildings in the Turin area are connected by a secret network of galleries wide enough to grant the passage of a coach and horses (sort of a private subway system).

Said galleries should date from the same time of the general restructuration, and be at a depth of more than 12 meters. A 10 meters wide gallery running on an East-West course under Via Po is effectively existant.

Generation 5
Plans for the restructuration of town under the Fascist Party Rule included a subway system, and a main tract, with stations and support structures were escavated and finished in 1930, and never used. Connecting Turin Station (Porta Nuova) with the hub of the town (Piazza Castello), the main gallery runs at about 3 meters under the pavement of central Via Roma, and parts of it have through the years served as an underground parking and as a warehouse. Platform, ramps and support structures on the sides of the main gallery were later transformed into cinemas or locally incorporated in other structures.

Now a little interesting bit.

The major (and only) source of information about the Turin Underground is the Army, and the Artillery Corp in particular - that is keeping its own counsel on the whole biz.

The official explanation is that, as the main development of passages was of a military interest as part of the Citadel defenses, the whole structure (or sum of structures) should fall under military jurisdiction. Also interestingly, the Army started showing an interest in the subject after the publication, in the '20s, of a partial map of the town's subsurface on a local newspaper. Artillery General (Ret.) Guido Amoretti has been involved in the whole show since then, and has been in charge of it since 1956.


Date: Sat, 19 Sep 1998 13:19:59 -0700
From: Phil A Posehn

O.K. Here's the first installment…


First, a brief geographical description. I apologise in advance for the excessive detail but a lot of the requests for more information are from far enough away that I cannot assume that they have access to a map showing any detail of the layout of Sacramento.

Sacramento was built upon the flood plain of the Sacramento river and expanded to the flood plain of the American river about 4 mi. to the East. While the latter became a problem for the city in the '50s, it is the Sacramento river that caused the underground city to come about.

(This IS relavent. It will become clear later)

The section of the city with which we are concerned is composed of a nice, simple grid of lettered and numbered streets. The numbered streets run paralllel to the Sac. River which forms the Western boundry of the city. Front Street is the waterfront, followed by 2nd, 3rd, etc. as one travels East down the lettered streets. "A" St., "B" St., etc. begin on the North with "X" St. being some three miles or so to the South. A city block averages about 1/12 of a mile.

The oldest portion of the city extends from the river to 16th St. and from "G" St. to "N" St.. This area was plagued by repeated flooding of the Sac. River up until the construction of an effective flood control network of levees. somewhere around the late 20s. As a result around the turn of the century the business district street level was raised some 10 to 12 feet with the former 1st floor of most businesses becoming the basement and the second story becoming the main floor. There were numerous freight elevators of thetype still in use in New York City that rose through the sidewalk through hinged steel doors. There were blue glass cylinders 3" in diameter imbedded in the sidewalk in 4' squares for additional illumination every so often as well as an extensive lighting system. Up until the mid '60s (this date will keep coming up) the underground city was in use by the people as a means of walking from one department store to another while protected from either the rain in the winter or the 100 deg.+ temperatures in the summer.

After the '60s a combination of bad city planning and the advent of the suburban mall caused the downtown district to wither. Those department stores that survived built new and larger stores a few blocks away, selling the old buildings. While it was still possible to access the underground through some elevators and staircases, most people forgot about it and so things remained until the late 80s when the first new high rise was built and exposed the hidden city. Outside of a few articles in the local small press no one paid much attention…except for the city's growing homeless population….

(more to come…)


Date: Mon, 21 Sep 1998 11:02:07
From: Davide Mana
I got this CNN.com thinghie through the Feng Shui mailing List.

While certainly FS oriented, this might give a few ideas to those out there interested in underground activities.

Can you say "Ghoul"?

Monks try to make peace with spirits angered by train

September 19, 1998 - Web posted at: 7:07 p.m. EDT (2307 GMT)

PORTLAND, Oregon (AP) — Four monks ventured into a tunnel 260 feet underground to make peace with spirits they say are angered by a new commuter rail line built beneath a cemetery.

The Lao Buddhist monks lit incense, chanted and asked for forgiveness for the construction of the tunnel below the Finleys Sunset Hills cemetery.

"We must make peace with what is so that they're not angry, so that they're not disturbed about this train roaring through them," said L.S. Catalani, an attorney who works among the Southeast Asian American communities.

City transportation officials helped arrange Friday's ceremony.

Catalani and others think a recent transit-center mishap and earlier construction deaths point to the need for spiritual harmony.

Vanhlang Khamsouk, secretary general of the Lao Buddharam Temple in Portland, said the gesture was important, even though most of the spirits were not from ancestors of his temple's more than 3,000 members.

"We do believe that even though we are not Christian, the Buddha can be in touch with the spirits," he said. "Even though the general community does not believe in this, we still feel we wanted to do our part."

After the ceremony, senior monk Khamsene Kapbouakham said he had detected many angry spirits, but he thought they had accepted the apology and would live in peace.


Date: Wed, 12 Aug 1998 14:48:23 -0400

From: Daniel Harms

Case officers who plan to be operating in the Russian arena might be interested in the following. Evidently Moscow has a huge sewer system like that of New York, but with more terrors. I found the supposed "library of Ivan the Terrible" intriguing - anyone know more about it?


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