Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Beneath the Metropolis: The Secret Lives of Cities” as Want to Read:
Beneath the Metropolis: The Secret Lives of Cities
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Beneath the Metropolis: The Secret Lives of Cities

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  50 ratings  ·  12 reviews
The pulse of great cities may be most palpable above ground, but it is below the busy streets where we can observe their rich archaeological history and the infrastructure that keeps them running. In The Secret Lives of Cities journalist Alex Marshall investigates how geological features, archaeological remnants of past civilizations, and layered networks transporting wate ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published October 16th 2006 by Running Press (first published 2006)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Beneath the Metropolis, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Beneath the Metropolis

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 192)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
This is a fascinating look at the infrastructure of cities..New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Moscow, Paris, Tokyo...and more! It's pretty easy to take our drinking water, electricity, gas, subways for granted when we don't see how they operate. Each city has its challenges..earthquakes, mud, previous digging.

The book is well illustrated and clear. Any teenager who is interested in urban structure would love it and a grown up like me!

Underground Moscow has tunnels no one knows about except illeg
This book looks at the history and development of twelve major international cities via the infrastructure built underneath them. There is a brief introduction and conclusion, but the bulk of the book is the chapters for each of these cities---New York, Chicago, San Francisco, London, Paris, Rome, Moscow, Mexico City, Cairo, Beijing, Tokyo, and Sydney.

I'm pretty much the target audience for this book---I'm a life-long city-dweller, I like to read and think about how cities work, and I am interes
If you were planning to visit my hometown of Seattle, and asked me what a fun thing to do would be, I'd recommend that you take the Seattle Underground Tour. A terrible fire that destroyed much of the downtown area in 1889 caused the locals to build on top of the rubble and to raise the levels of the streets. The abandoned basements and sidewalks are today a tourist attraction, and a very interesting one at that (it doesn't hurt that early Seattle had its fair share of odd characters and the tou ...more
Marshall gives a short overview on a number of famous cities and their secret underground. From waterworks, subway tunnels, aqueducts, crypts and even whole secret cities and train systems under Moscow, most major metropolitan areas have thousands of feet of under-structures that very few people are aware of. A good starter book for anyone interested in learning about underground structures.
Watch out. I think this may the the christmas gift everyone will get! I liked that there are cities from Europe but also Mexico city, Cairo and Beijing. Moscow underground is very interesting with treasure still hiding from Ivan the Terrible, and chambers of horrors, and radioactive bits, and secret subways to undisclosed towns. marvelous. the writing is good, not dull at all.
Beth Callahan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This book moves too fast. It had everything I wanted -- history, photos, descriptions, culture -- but I wanted more of all of that. Too few pages are devoted to each city. I think this might have been better in more depth, perhaps in two volumes so the book isn't huge.

And one niggling complaint; there are lots of nice photos, several photos, including the cover photo, appear to have no caption. So the reader is left wondering at times what they are looking at.

Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Gave this a skim/flip-through. More like 2.5. A pretty decent overview, though it only looks at a handful of mega-cities. It had some interesting sidebars and really excellent photos. Though at least one illustration was mis-captioned — Haussman's sewer did not exist in the 15th century IIRC. The photos were also (as is fairly usual, sadly) poorly attributed. Giving the name of the image service = insufficient. It did have a (partial?) bibliography, though.
This book like some other readers mentioned is a good introduction to how few cities are underground, specifically from their subway/train and sewage systems, along with some archaeological information. It's pretty interesting,at least for me, but it doesn't go too deep and leaves you wondering, which for me, I guess is not a bad thing.
Phil Breidenbach
Very interesting book on the history and the infrastructures (?) below the cities.
Missie Kay The Book Fix
An interesting guide for the absolute novice (like me) to civil engineering.
Leondis Jones
Must have for the history section.
Jonna marked it as to-read
Feb 26, 2015
Sara added it
Feb 21, 2015
Jeremy marked it as to-read
Feb 13, 2015
Ingrid Siqueira
Ingrid Siqueira marked it as to-read
Feb 10, 2015
Benji marked it as to-read
Jan 15, 2015
Stephen Davis
Stephen Davis marked it as to-read
Jan 14, 2015
James marked it as to-read
Jan 07, 2015
Connie added it
Nov 26, 2014
David Moss
David Moss marked it as to-read
Sep 04, 2014
Plhughes marked it as to-read
Aug 10, 2014
Michaela marked it as to-read
Jul 29, 2014
Joel Nwani
Joel Nwani marked it as to-read
Jul 01, 2014
Ted marked it as to-read
Jun 03, 2014
Tlalocan marked it as to-read
May 16, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
I was born in Norfolk, Virginia, and raised in the suburban wilderness of Virginia Beach. I went away to the Catholic, Polish lands of Pittsburg for college, and then ended up exiling myself in Spain for two years. I returned, and after a sojourn teaching school and visiting Central America during the war then, I became a journalist. I worked at The Virginian-Pilot for almost 10 years, after gradu ...more
More about Alex Marshall...
How Cities Work: Suburbs, Sprawl, and the Roads Not Taken The Surprising Design of Market Economies

Share This Book