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On the London Tube

...In the first years of the twentieth century it took seventy minutes to journey around the circuit  [of the Inner Circle] by steam train; a hundred years later, the trains are only twenty minutes faster.

The Tube is still in large part an old place. It is Victorian. Abandoned tunnels run nowhere, known as "dead tunnels", snaking their way through the living system; they are sometimes damp, and sometimes dusty with the patina of past time along their walls and floors. The tunnels beneath the Thames have a layer of moss that has somehow grown across the sheets of metal panels.

The Underground curves and swerves beneath the surface, some tunnels in a constant state of movement. The tunnels beneath the City of London still follow the medieval street plan in order to curb the risk to ancient buildings.

The Tube system is devoted to finding the shortest route possible between two locations. It is not really a place at all. It is a process of movement and expectation.

I've been really enjoying London Under by Peter Ackroyd. And ya'll know my love for subway systems.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 20th, 2014 11:20 pm (UTC)
I'm very curious to see how it compares to nyc's subway system!
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 22nd, 2014 09:40 pm (UTC)
lol! Well, I can't wait to see for myself. (I do love nyc's though. Rats and all. there's SCOPE FOR IMAGINATION.)
Aug. 21st, 2014 09:44 pm (UTC)
You can't. There is no comparison. Sorry NYC.

I just had the freaky and wonderful experience of riding the Tube for 3 days (there's a whole new LINE/COLOR since I lived there 18 years ago. Mind. Blown.) and then the Paris Metro for 6.

Oh. My. Gosh. I am more in love with the Underground than ever.

The signage alone makes it teh best. In Paris, many of the entrances are unmarked. Others have an alarmingly confusing array of disparate signage (including some beautiful Art Noveau ones, I admit), which make it so difficult to naviagate.

In London? Big, red and royal blue icon-heavy signage. Every. Time.

The graphic design alone makes it better.

The only American subway system that even comes close is DC, IMHO.

And still, The Tube.


I am putting this on my reading list. I haven't been to the Underground museum, but that is also on my list.

Aug. 22nd, 2014 09:42 pm (UTC)
Unmarked entrances?! Paris, what the heck?

The book was marvelous. It talked about anything and everything to do with underground London - crypts, sewer systems, tunnels, etc. Fascinating.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )