Days Of Future Past

Thursday, 21 January 2016, 21:24 | Category : Architecture, Urban Exploration
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TWA Terminal, JFK

Once upon a time, there was an airline called Trans World Airlines, or TWA. And once upon a time, this airline built a futuristic terminal in New York’s John F. Kennedy airport, just in time for the New York World’s Fair.

It was a different time in America, a time when architecture made grand statements about more than just the prospective content of the building. And this terminal definitely made a statement. Even during construction, it was distinctive:

Now, I hate flying through JFK, based on admittedly a small sample size (going to England last summer and coming back). The terminal we went through was hot, the security lines were very slow (and hot!), the lines were long. But I would have loved to go through the TWA terminal. It was just such a cool place, and from what I’ve read was pretty well designed, able to move passengers through rather efficiently. (Of course, in the 1960s there were fewer passengers to handle!). In other places, the red carpet and seats might seem too much, but in this place they were perfect:

Unfortunately, it closed when TWA disappeared in 2001. Recently Jet Blue announced they were going to develop what’s left into a hotel (apparently some parts have been torn down), and hopefully they’ll preserve the look and feel, but it won’t be the same. Fortunately there are several sites that have made photographic explorations of it and preserved the terminal in it’s modernistic glory. Here’s one, with lots of pictures:

Explore the TWA Terminal, a Pristine Time Capsule From 1962

Up, up, and away!

Back Underground

Friday, 17 January 2014, 21:43 | Category : Urban Exploration
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Unlike some abandoned places I’ve read about, this one hasn’t been abandoned all that long. But it’s a fascinating story. Apparently the British postal service had its own subway system for about 75 years, used to move mail among processing and sorting stations. The system began operating in 1928, and was used until 2003.

London underground mail train

Exploring the system was apparently at the top of the list for urban explorers in London, and at some point, a group managed to get inside and carried out a pretty thorough exploration – read about it here.

From the brief reading I did, it seems the train carried mail almost exclusively, but there were apparently a few cars for people, although I think not for the public, but for employees. Still, a cool way to move between offices.

Still Underground: Abandoned Subway Stations

Wednesday, 8 May 2013, 9:15 | Category : Architecture, Underground, Urban Exploration
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Subways fascinate me. I’d never ridden on a subway until the early 90s, when I had to travel frequently to Washington for my job, and I got very familiar with the Metro, since I averaged being in DC about once a month for 3-4 years. Later I had the chance to ride the “L” in Chicago (I know, it’s mostly elevated, but it’s underground in some places), and New York’s subway. And somewhere along the way, I heard about abandoned stations underground. Maybe the most famous is New York’s City Hall Station:

This station was opened in 1904, and was supposed to be the crown jewel of the subway system, but was closed in 1945 when new, longer cars made the curved platform dangerous because of the gap between the platform and the new cars (You can read more here). But it really was a beautiful bit of architecture:

City Hall Station

What, More Underground Stuff?

Monday, 6 May 2013, 20:59 | Category : Underground, Urban Exploration
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Well, yes. I’m not sure what’s got me going on the underground stuff this week. But now that it’s started, I’m blogging my way through it. So, for the third installment…..

Korean Infiltration Tunnels!

I’ve heard claims about tunnels under the DMZ almost as long as I’ve heard about the Korean War, which is most of my life (my dad was called back to active duty in the summer of 1950, although he never actually got sent to Korea). The suspicion was that Kim Il Sung, and later Kim Jong Il, had ordered the construction of tunnels to provide a path for massive infiltration behind the front lines in the event of a second Korean conflict. Sometimes these were rumored to be relatively small, just big enough to allow units of soldiers to pass in single file; sometimes wide enough to allow tanks to go through. Sometimes there were only a couple of tunnels, sometimes there were dozens or even hundreds. The one consistent thing was that everything I ever read agreed that tunnels were definitely there.

Staying With The Underground Theme

Sunday, 5 May 2013, 20:41 | Category : Architecture, Underground, Urban Exploration
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Some sort of ancient temple, maybe? Or the set of a science-fiction movie? Actually, it’s part of a massive underground stormwater system in Tokyo. And when I say massive, that’s exactly what I mean: “five 32m diameter, 65m deep concrete containment silos, connected by 64 kilometers of tunnels 50 meters deep underground”. In times of heavy rains and swollen rivers (Tokyo has several), the city can pump 200 tons of water every second with huge turbines like this: