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Saturday, December 29, 2012


It's creative. And could be very energy efficient. Montreal has lots of underground shopping malls because of the severe winter weather. BUT: the dim light could be wonderful to camouflage drug deals, and anonymous sexual activities of a type that would drive away families, timid elderly and all but the thickest skinned young people and muggings. Think public bathrooms in some areas...and how parents can no longer let their children use them unescorted, because of their denizens.

Private development of such areas is usually garishly commercial, but at least the developers have a strong financial incentive to assure security and prevent vandalism. The tragedy of the commons tends to come into play in most public space. On the one hand, one could envision a place like this being a safe, free, warm place where teenagers could come to hang out and talk and eye each other without having to pay extortionate NYC prices. But police would chase even the harmless groups of them away because all groups of teens are assumed to be up to no good.

So who would come down here? Office workers? Most of them have already gone half nuts (at least I do) from an entire day indoors and want to be outside for a change. Courting couples? Perhaps. Lonely singles looking for company? Maybe. Unemployed people wanted a free wifi site and something besides their own discouraging four walls. Yes! Homeless people wanting a spot out of the wind. Yes, God's gift to them, if New York's finest don't chase them away. Old people and disabled people would need readily available bathrooms, and there would need to be constant security. That security could be oppressive. Having a uniform staring at you as you eat your lunch sandwich would not be relaxing.

As for me, I am not a troglodyte. I need MORE light, not less, especially in the winter. Most New Yorkers spend too much time indoors as it is. Tho the ones who walk everywhere (as most people I know do) get some light between the canyons of buildings.

Personally, I would rather see some power plant, or building housing machinery or other non-human stuff placed underground, and its spot razed above ground, and a park put in. In the natural light. The building underground could benefit from passive heat, geothermal stuff, etc. But people could relax outdoors, where they are meant to.

Sorry to be so verbose...I still think it's a way cool idea. I just get claustrophobic underground and prefer natural light myself....

Not quite what you're suggesting, R, but Chicago has sprawling, multilevel underground public parking garages with Park facilities above. See Millenium Park.

Connected to the garage is a 40-block network of tunnels with shops, food, exits to many business, govt buildings, and a few large residential buildings and underground stations. It's nice during bitter cold weather, but otherwise too dark and dingy for me to want to spend much time down there.

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