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Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Writer's Life 3/5 - Under & Above Ground

Recently, a gentleman handed me a Xerox copy of a list of interesting stuff to search on the web. Here are facts on underground cities, gleaned from, edited by yours truly: Cappadocia, located in central Turkey, is home to no less than 36 underground cities. At a depth of approximately 85 meters, Derinkuyu is the deepest. Discovered in 1963, the subterranean network of tunnels and rooms includes living quarters, stables, churches, storage rooms, refectories and wineries. It is said to have housed more than 20,000 in its heyday... And here in the USA, Portland, Oregon has its own underground city known as the Shanghai Tunnels. The intricate network reportedly consisted of passageways linking Portland’s Old Town (Chinatown) to the central Downtown area. Unfortunately, many of the spaces have been filled in during various public works projects, but a few are open to explore. (I recently read Woke Up Lonely, a novel by Fiona Maazel, part of which takes place under Cincinnati. I guess it wasn't as far fetched as I'd thought)... Beneath the streets of Scotland’s capital lies a dark and damp world dating back to the 18th century. The Edinburgh Vaults opened in 1788, a period of great expansion and growth. At that time many residents were superstitious. The place still exudes a sense of gore and ghastliness. Originally built to house taverns, cobblers, cutlers, smelters and other tradesmen, and to store illicit materials, rumor has it that serial killers stored bodies there, which they sold for medical experiments. Later, when the businesses moved out, the vaults became home to the city’s poorest souls, a skid row complete with pubs and brothels, a place so grim it would make any of today’s red light districts seem homey... Located just over nine miles outside of Krakow, the Wieliczka Salt Mine was built in the 13th century and produced table salt continuously until 2007. One of the biggest tourist attractions in Poland, the underground city has evolved from a series of dark caves to a complex labyrinth now comprising over 185 impressive miles of galleries, about 3000 chambers and nine floors, with the first three open to the public... In the Czech Republic, in the western part of the country, there lies the Pilsen Historical Underground, a 12.5 mile long labyrinth of passageways, cellars and wells built below the city streets in the 14th century. They served as storage space for food and barrels of beer and, some say, as an escape route in case of attack... The sleepy city of Moose Jaw, located in Saskatchewan in Southern Canada, is home to a series of tunnels. In the beginning of the 20th century, Canada imposed a tax on Chinese immigrants, whom locals feared would steal jobs. Afraid and unable to pay the tax, illegal immigrants were forced underground. Entire families lived there and worked in the local businesses above ground in exchange for food and supplies until the 1920s, when the maze acquired a new purpose - the transporting of booze to America during the prohibition era. Here are pics of Pilsen and Wieliczka, in that order:

My thanks to Monsey, who purchased a book on autism. Her 14-year-old grandson is borderline. He has moved back to regular schooling. She wants to see if there is anything in the book that will help him find any talent he may have. Special thanks to Mayor Mike, a local Super, who led me to a recently vacated apartment and a marketable trough of books, hard and soft cover, 75% in Russian. If that doesn't improve sales, I don't know what will.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
Vic's Short Works:

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