Seattle Underground

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seattle-underground_top.jpg When an accidental fire ripped through 33 blocks of a mostly wooden Seattle in 1889 the city decided to rebuild with stone and brick. Oh and rebuild a couple of stories higher to reduce the potential for flooding. What was then created was an above ground Seattle and an underground Seattle. It wasn't until 1907 that it was condemned. A small portion has been restored for public access. seattle_underground_1.jpg seattle_underground_2.jpg seattle_underground_3.jpg seattle_underground_4.jpg It wasn't until 1965 when a private citizen decide to run commercial tours in the underground. You can book tickets here for as little as $15. There's also an adults only version which goes into more of the seedy aspects of life in 1889. Here you can see the stairs that take you down to what was originally the ground floor. It's quite confusing that a whole city can be raised up. At first, pedestrians climbed ladders to go between street level and the sidewalks in front of the building entrances. Brick archways were constructed next to the road surface, above the submerged sidewalks. Skylights with small panes of clear glass, (which later turned to amethyst-colored because of manganese in the glass), were installed, creating the area now called the Seattle Underground. seattle-underground_stairs.jpg seattle_underground_5.jpg Here's a video tour of the Seattle Underground.

Also here's a Fox news report about ghosts in the Seattle underground. The embed was disabled on Youtube which is quite annoying.

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Would the City of Ember open up to tourists if it was ever discovered?

For more information check out Wikipedia and for more images check Flickr. P.S: We apologize for the delay in posting. We've been working hard on the official site for the City of Ember movie which should be ready next week!.
gate_to_hell_1.jpg According to Wikipedia "In 1971, while drilling for natural gas in Darvaza, Turkmenistan, the ground on which the drilling rig was placed collapsed, leaving a large gaping hole exposed with a diameter of around 60 meters. To avoid poisonous gases coming out of the hole, it was decided to let the gases burn. As of 2008, gases in the underground cavern are still burning without interruption. Locals have named the cavern The Door to Hell."

We've seen other reports saying it was from Soviet drilling in the 1950's. Either way someone decided to burn it and it's been burning for a long time.

gate_to_hell_2.jpg gate_to_hell_3.jpg gate_to_hell_4.jpg gate_to_hell_5.jpg gate_to_hell_6.jpg gate_to_hell_7.jpg gate_to_hell_8.jpg gate_to_hell_9.jpg gate_to_hell_10.jpg Accidents like this exist all around the world but none with such beauty. Others, like the 2006 gas/mud slide in East Java, Indonesia which I actually visited myself, have caused much more damage and killed many people.

You can actually visit this today as part of a tour. But don't expect a hotel it's camels and camping all the way.

Here's some videos of the crater.

You can even see this on satellite photos. Although this time it looks like Yahoo! maps has the best verison.

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Definetly going to have to add this to our list of places to visit. If you want to learn more about Turkmenistan then visit the CIA factbook or Wikipedia.

Source: 1, 2, 3
Photos by John H Bradley
musok_old.jpg When the world was at war there was only really one safe place and that was underground. That's why the world today is littered with underground military bases many of which are still secret today. Many though have been declassified and some even open to the public. Sweden's Muskö (Musköanläggningen) Naval Base is one that looks right out of a Hollywood film. musko_front_ship.jpg musko_front_ship2.jpg musko_front_ship3.jpg
"It´s not just the docks that are underground, the whole naval base is built under a mountain. There are repair factories, hospitals, dining rooms, barracks etc, all under the mountain. Thousands of soldiers would serve there in wartime and the hospital alone has over 1000 beds. As a comparison, when building the famous underground facilities in Cheyenne Mountains they had to remove 350.000 m3 of stone, in Muskö they had to blow away 1.500.000 m3 of stone (even more if you counting the underground road that leads to Muskö under the seabed)."
Source musko_sub1.jpg musko_sub2.jpg This reminds us of a secret lair for a super villain. musko_exit_1.jpg musko_exit_2.jpg musko_exit_3.jpg musko_exit_4.jpg musko_5.jpg No underground facility would be complete without huge blast doors. musko_doors.jpg musko_4.jpg And how to you get around such a large complex? On a bike of course. Standard issue Swedish Military pushbikes of course. musko_transport.jpg Here's a shot of the facilities supplies area. It looks like a shopping mall. musko_shopping.jpg You can view the location of the base on Google Maps below.

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But if you really want to zoom in and see some details you'll need to use Sweden's which has much more detailed imagery. Check the difference here. musko_hitta_map.jpg musko_hitta_map2.jpg The site was actually sold to Kockums in 2007 for the purpose of marine maintenance. All 65 staff kept their jobs. Kockums is the developer of the very silly, but very stealthy, Visby Class Corvette.

More info on Muskö here, here and here. Supply store photo from from here.
emegency_arhouse_japan.jpg Located 20 meters (65 ft) underground, the 1,480 square meter (16,000 sq ft) space contains emergency supplies to be distributed to the public in the event of a major earthquake. Items include 5,000 blankets, 8,000 rugs, 4,000 candles, 300 cooking pots, 200 t-shirts, and emergency medical supplies. A conveyor belt system is installed to help transport the supplies up to street level.

The underground warehouse is connected to an unnamed station on the Oedo line, Tokyo’s deepest subway. Apparently, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government maintains more than one of these warehouses, but the locations are kept secret. Which makes sense as 5,000 blankets isn't much help for a city of just under 13 million people.

This might confirm some of the conspiracy theories floating around.

We wonder if this is normal for most major cities or if they are just paranoid about the next Godzilla attack. Either way it makes a story like City of Ember seem real.

Via Pinktentacle
tbm_parents.jpg How to you drill a hole through a mountain? With a Tunnel Boring Machine, TBM for short, of course. These machines have been around since the 1850's although it was until the 1950s that the technology actually resembled what is used today.

Their size varies but the world's largest is 15.43 meter (50.62 ft) in diameter and currently working it's way through the ground under the Shanghai Yangtze River in China.

But rather than take you through all the technical and historical facts about TBM's. We'd rather just show some amazing photos. If you want to learn more about TBM's( and who doesn't) check the Wikipedia entry and if you're just into tunnels then check the list of world's longest tunnels. Make note to never get into a conversation about this with the Swiss. They love a good tunnel like the Gotthard Base Tunnel which has 2,000 people working 24hrs a day 365 days a year to create a 57 km (35 miles) long tunnel at some 2,000 meters underground. The BBC have a great article here on the project.

Oh and you'd think that the softer the rock the quicker you can drill. Not so.

"With this machine, in good conditions, we can excavate 40 metres in a day," says Mr Schmid. "That's an absolute record. However in poor rock conditions, where the rock is very soft, we can only excavate around half a metre a day," says Mr Schmid. "So in these situations, the work is delayed, and the costs rise."

Anyway as we said let's show some pictures.
tbm_ember_style.jpg S174_Nachlaeufer01_01.jpg tbm_white_1.jpg tbm_2.jpg tbm_green.jpg tbm_escape.jpg tbm_closeup.jpg tbm_inside_people.jpg tbm_giger_style.jpg Tell me that doesn't look like a Giger piece. tbm_triple_big.jpg Yep you guessed it. The Japanese had to top everyone and do a double tunnel TBM. tbm_wet.jpg This is what happens when a TBM get's the Flu. tbm_statue.jpg tbm_swedish.jpg tbm_retro.jpg tbm_old_school.jpg tbm_old_school_2.jpg Old school!

Here are the few videos I could find featiring TBM's. Filming the action is usually reserved for the money shot. ie the final stage when the TBM breaches the other side.

People seem to love a tunnel opening.

And if you're wondering how you actually operate one of these machines check out the very boring controls. tbm_controls.jpg

Photo sources: 1, 2 Getty also has a collection of great TBM photos but we'd get in trouble if we used them.