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Article |

The World Beneath the City

William B. Bean, M.D.
Arch Intern Med. 1961;108(5):815. doi:10.1001/archinte.1961.03620110155042.
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A couple of years ago I got a copy of this book, I cannot remember how or where. It looked like the kind of routine job that somebody turned out after inadvertently collecting the material. On the contrary, it is a delightful description, a history and physical examination of the bowels of New York City, the intertwining labyrinth of sewers, water supply, gas lines, electric cables, steam ducts, subways, and the strange people whose life leads them literally into the underground. The city depends on a great many lifelines, and the multitudinous metabolic activities of urban life depend on the proper functioning of an incredible snare of cables, wires, steam lines, tunnels, subways, and the vast arteries of subterranean power transmission. Not the least interesting in the account of the world below the city is the analogy that one sees of the city as a living organism differing from a


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