A large book packed full of photos, diagrams and maps of many of the largest cities in the world that have a subterranean world to explore.

The author Mark Ovenden has been writing books about transport maps for some years, and this latest book is more a compendium of subterranean nuggets from around the world. Rather than focusing in-depth on a handful of cities, each of whom probably has enough written about their underground worlds to fill small libraries, this large “coffee-table” sized book is more a swift tourist visit and then on to the next one.

In that though, it’s a dip in and out book, something to casually browse through and occasionally muttering wows when you learn about something astonishing under the streets of the world’s metropolises.

From the vast cold-war spaces dug out of the rock under Helsinki to Canada’s famous underground shopping centres, to modern networks in Beijing, and strange art under Milan.

It’s not just capital cities, for example, the UK includes Liverpool and Manchester, while the USA has lots of major cities worth exploring. It’s not just transport, it’s sewers, utilities, history, caverns – anything under the ground made or used by humans.

Each city is given a few pages of history and description of the more interesting subterranean features, plenty of glossy photos, and for each city, a map of what lies beneath the streets.

I am sure the geeks in each city will moan about what bit of their city wasn’t included, but that’s not the audience, and neither was that the aim. It’s a buffet selection of the global underground that you can pick and mix to your pleasure.

Would it be teasingly cruel of me to point out there’s an awkward mistake in the London map? Because now a lot of you will insist on buying the book to find it.

The book, Underground Cities: Mapping the tunnels, transits and networks underneath our feet is available from local book shops, or online via Amazon, Foyles and Waterstones.


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