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The mouth of the tunnel is wide and dark, swallowing the light and all that breathes. Their eyes have adapted to the constant night that cloaks them from the topside world. “I thought it was the Amtrak police,” he later says while opening a beer, his legs dangling off the edge of the wall. The expansion of extensive sewers and steam pipes systems had brought a newfound fascination with what laid below the streets.Rubble is scattered along the train tracks, bordered by retaining walls covered in numerous layers of graffiti. Here by the parkway with the blasting trucks and the roaring cars, near the filigree arches of the Riverside Drive viaduct, here with the gravel crunching under my feet as I run down the railroad into this hollow mouth. They’ve always been there, resting low below the rowdy streets and the carving avenues, gulping the air from inside the earth, crawling through holes and cracks, living off the grid and off the books. Don’t you know they’re eating rats and human flesh? And one day they will spill outside and burn us all alive, and they will reign over our flatscreen joys and our organic delights. “They been coming less, lately, but you never know. From Jules Verne’s 1864 novel “Journey to the Center of the Earth” to George Gissing’s 1889 book “The Nether World,” literature was brimming with tales of people living in isolation or trapped under the surface, peaking in 1895 with “The Time Machine,” in which H. Wells described a fictional subterranean species called the “Morlocks.” But it was only in the 1990s that the first widespread depictions of real-world tunnel residents appeared in New York.Employees also receive their birthday as a holiday.Excessive usage and abuse of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is another driver of unplanned absences.If the MTA were a company in a functioning free market, it would have filed bankruptcy and restructured a decade ago.
Before paying any other business expenses, the MTA is already losing money.Photojournalists Margaret Morton and Andrea Star Reese have both extensively documented communities spread in underground hideouts since Toth’s book. Written in an abandoned crew room of the F subway line, these words were the reason I ventured into the tunnels in the first place, looking for the invisible, guided by local dwellers along the years to seek foundations of humanity in the foundations of the city.Dutch anthropologist Teun Voeten’s 1996 diary “Tunnel People” provided an incredible account of the months he spent with the Riverside Park Amtrak tunnel inhabitants before they were evicted and moved to Section 8 housing units. All the stories I had read about the Mole People before descending myself had two things in common. Like many of the people interviewed for this article, he did not want to give his full name. I can do what I wanna and I don’t have to take nothing from nobody.” Today is a good day for Jon, despite the rain and the cool weather. Like alligators in the sewers.” Jon offers me a sip of vodka. He tells me to stay safe and to watch out for trains when I go back walking into the tunnel.He is bipolar and suffers from major substance dependence. An instant hit, it chronicled the organization of those underground societies, describing compounds of several thousands where babies were born and regular lives were lived, with elected officials, hot water and even electricity.