Written Words – St. Louis Underground

The Metrolink tunnels in the center of the city look like subway tunnels in any city in the US: high, featureless concrete walls with narrow walkways and occasional safety lights. Nondescript. Anonymous.

But as you progress downtown, further into the old parts of the city, the tunnels begin to change. The ceiling slopes down and the walls press in until you feel any person caught in the tunnels would be crushed by a passing train. Even the material of the walls changes, shifting into bricks that would be red in the world above but appear dull brown in the irregularly spaced lights. Every few yards, small arches interrupt the walls, barely more than the height of an average man and perhaps two feet wide. In your mind’s eye, you can almost see the man making his way through the tunnels, listening all the time for the rattle and vibration of an approaching train, ducking into the nearest arch and pressing himself against the sloped wall, his dark lantern shielded to avoid attention.

The newer tunnels are standard, modern, aseptic. They fit the image of a city putting itself forward into the new century. The old tunnels are close, unpredictable, beautiful.

In the old tunnels, you can dream of adventure.

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