These days, a subway is an integral part of a city's heritage and a key feature of the urban landscape used by passengers. But subways are also full of history and art. They reflect a city's personality and its past and future, and are worthy of exploration, even for those not boarding a train. It's safe to say that a great many subways have overcome a reputation for unpleasant shadiness.
Under Ground is a tour of the most fascinating subways viewed through the filters of urban planning, ethnology, art, and history. More than 100 subway stations and train cars are described in informative text and stunning color photographs.
The book opens with a chapter on the origins of the subway, the story as told by four subways in particular. London's Underground was the world's first subway. The Paris Metro was a product of the Industrial Revolution and the first modern subway. New York City's subway is the largest and busiest subway in America. Buenos Aires pioneered South American subway systems. Today, however, the designs and technology of these trailblazing subways have been far surpassed.
Under Ground organizes its world tour by continent, starting in North America (New York, Rochester, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Toronto), crossing the ocean to Europe (London, Paris, Brussels, Barcelona, Lisbon, Naples, Valencia, Berlin, Munich, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Warsaw), traveling into Eastern Europe (Ukraine, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Russia, and Republic of Tatarstan, home to some of the world's most exciting modern subways), further to Asia (Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Istanbul), making a stop in Dubai, and ending in the Far East (Japan, Shanghai, Taiwan, North Korea).
The 100 subways include:
- The Stockholm metro, considered to be "the longest museum in the world"
- New York City's Art Deco City Hall Station, now closed to the public
- Russia's many underground Cold War palaces that double as fallout shelters
- Prague's Dalek-skinned walls
- The blue-lit passenger halls of Dubai's metro, a cool sea in the desert
- Paris' Concorde station tiled with one gigantic word search puzzle that spells out the Declaration of the Rights of Man from the French Revolution
- The candy-colored kaleidoscopic University station in Naples, the vision of American designer Karim Rashid
- Olaias station in Lisbon, lit almost exclusively by chandeliers
- Shanghai's Sund sightseeing tunnel, a mind-bending ride in transparent cars with a 360 degree view which races through a psychedelic laser lit tunnel, one of the city's top five tourist attractions
- Kyoto's immense 15-story multi-use rail station
- Istanbul's underwater Marmaray tunnel, the deepest in the world.
Under Ground is a unique trip to the underground. Readers don't need a token or a monthly pass, only a comfortable seat - perhaps on the subway - to enjoy the engaging text and gorgeous photographs. This is an excellent selection especially for urban retailers and libraries.
About the Author
Catherine Zerdoun is a historian and journalist who is a regular contributor to books and magazines. She has worked for Hachette Group, Michelin, Arthaud and National Geographic.
Depending on your city's public transit system you might be left desperately jealous after seeing some of the stations featured in this book.--Mark Medley"Globe and Mail" (12/10/2016)