Exploring the World Underneath New York City

A photographer documents the sewers beneath the metropolis.

More

“It’s dead quiet,” says Duncan, an urban historian and photographer. “You feel like you’re the last man on earth—and that’s incredibly rare in New York.” Steve Duncan is in a city of 8 million people, but the chances that he runs into anyone else are slim to none. He is 20 feet below a manhole cover photographing a realm that most would never dare enter. The photos he captures document the fragile relationship between the natural world and our built environment. “The same rivers and streams that were the reason that New York was founded here, they still exist, they are just hidden away,” says Duncan.

In the short documentary, A Beautiful Waste, director Jon Kasbe follows Duncan on a tour of a section of the New York City sewer system. While underground they discover hidden springs, surreal landscapes, and of course some putrid water. Duncan says that his goal is to improve cities by increasing our awareness of how they function. “Understanding how cities work is important,” says Duncan, “otherwise we don’t get to shape how they develop.”

To see more work from Jon Kasbe visit jonkasbe.com.

Jump to comments

Paul Rosenfeld writes and produces for Atlantic Video. His work has also appeared on The Daily Beast and CNN.com.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Video

Just In