On the subway yesterday I saw an ad for The Future Beneath Us, an exhibit at the New York Transit Museum and The New York Public Library. The joint exhibition is billed as "an illuminating look at the vast mega-projects that will bring New York City's underground infrastructure into the 21st Century and beyond." For those unable to visit the two venues -- The Science, Industry and Business Library’s Healy Hall, at 188 Madison Avenue, and the New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex and Store at Grand Central Terminal -- the online coverage is exemplary.
[8-project map | image source]
The eight projects are: 1) East Side Access 2) Second Avenue Subway 3) Fulton Street Transit Center 4) 7 Line Extension 5) Croton Water Filtration Plant 6) City Water Tunnel #3 7) Trans-Hudson Express Tunnel 8) World Trade Center.
Photos and text trace the history and provide a glimpse of the future via renderings of stations, for example. The most well known is surely City Water Tunnel #3, "the largest and longest running capital project in New York City’s history and among the largest engineering projects in the world," running for a total of 60 miles (96km) at a depth of 800 feet (244m), though the Second Avenue subway is probably a close second. All of the projects illustrate the importance of underground infrastructure in serving the people and buildings above ground, but they also show that infrastructure is always an incomplete project, dependent upon technology, the evolution of the city and financial constraints.