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)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


Elsewhere on the web

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

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

What makes a story great? The storytellers behind House of CardsThis American LifeThe Moth, and more reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Video

Just In