Beneath the city

by Chris Bertram on September 8, 2003

Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s latest post – The Fabric of the City – deserves a wide readership, both for itself and for the wealth of resources it links to. Lots of stuff about New York’s transportation infrastructure, abandoned subway stations and so on. There’s something about abandoned stations (especially underground ones) that calls to mind murder, mystery, romance (the stuff of old movies basically). There used to be such a station, perhaps more than one, on Berlin’s U-Bahn. It was part of the West Berlin network but was situated under East Berlin. The trains would pass through slowly, the old station was illuminated by a few 40w light bulbs and (I think) sometimes there were East German police on the platform with dogs.



Loren 09.08.03 at 5:44 pm

From Hayden’s “Beneath the City” post: “The city is fascinating — perverse, complex, sometimes maddening, sometimes startlingly beautiful, full of the middles of stories whose beginnings and ends you never see.”

That’s a wonderfully evocative opening line.


John Isbell 09.08.03 at 6:37 pm

I went through an abandoned East Berlin station in the U-Bahn in 1990, but it was just empty. We didn’t stop. Similarly, I don’t remember any controls at Checkpoint Charlie, even though technically it was still two countries, and driving over the East German border, we passed the 100m wide swathe cut through the forest, with abandoned lookout/machine gun towers 25 feet high, and empty border checkpoints with every window smashed. It was quite moving. I could go on, there’s lots more, but I’ll stop there and let it echo.


Doug 09.08.03 at 6:51 pm

Yes, there were several in Berlin, from the time when the U-Bahn belonged to the W. Berlin government. Looking at the map of the current system, there must have been a bunch.

I remember gliding past Franzoesische Strasse, and it was just as Chris describes: dimly lit, empty. Waiting for the people to return. Which they did. And now, from the U-Bahn, you’d never know it was ever any different.


Michael Blowhard 09.10.03 at 4:46 am

There was a memorable scene (or couple of scenes?) set in an abandoned NYC subway station or underground subway facility of some kind in the sci-fi thriller “Mimic.” At least I think it was NYC. And I’m pretty sure the set was created on a sound stage. Still, my middle-aged Alzheimer’s aside: moody and fun to watch.

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