Secret Underground Cities - From America to Australia

Doorway into an Underground City
Doorway into an Underground City
Shanghai Stairwell
Shanghai Stairwell
One of Portland's infamous alleys
One of Portland's infamous alleys
White Slaver Cell
White Slaver Cell

Today, our civilization is mostly concerned with what goes on above ground. Our cities are bustling cosmopolitan centers for commerce and business transactions - rarely, if ever, do we consider what might be lurking right underneath our feet, under the very streets of the places where we play and work.

But they are there: massive, intricate tunnel systems, hiding places, buildings...and all below ground. Some are only a hundred years old, others centuries, but all are fascinating.

Underground Cities in America: Portland

Imagine, it is 1908 and you are a big, brawny man satisfying your thirst with a few frosty mugs of beer in your favorite neighborhood bar in Portland, Oregon. A few more beers with all your friends, and things get rowdier as your buddies get more intoxicated. You laugh, swap jokes and stories, and soon all of you are swaying on your feet. With a belch and a wipe of the mouth with your sleeve, you set down your mug and are on your way to the bathroom, trying to weave somewhat of a straight line. Suddenly, a trap door opens underneath your feet and you plummet feet first into darkness. A mattress breaks your fall, but you are now in a cage, with broken glass strewn about outside. The trap door swings back up, locks into place, and your friends are none the wiser. Your shoes are taken so in the unlikely event of escape, the broken glass will cut your feet and leave a trail of blood for your captors to follow. You have just been 'Shanghaied.'

This scenario was all too common in Portland from the year 1850 to 1941, where able-bodied men dropped through trap doors in bars or the dead-ends of alleys and into the Portland Underground Tunnels, or the 'Shanghai Tunnels.' These tunnels are intricately connected catacombs that extend for miles underneath the city and shanghaiers, bootleggers, white slavers and opium den owners used them for various purposes. The shanghaied men would find themselves on a ship bound for the Orient as sailors who endured scanty rations and terrible living situations.

The white slavers kidnapped girls as young as 14 and forced them into prostitution, but not before confining them to complete darkness in a tiny little cell, barely big enough to move in - to break down their minds, spirits and wills before selling them off to the highest bidder.

Havre Beneath the Streets

In Havre, Montana there is an underground section that catacombs underneath the city in a series of secret passageways. Rich with history, 'Havre Beneath the Streets', as it is called, was the home of many turn-of-the-century businesses. Some of these included the Sporting Eagle Saloon, Wah Sing Laundry, Wright's Dental Office, Boone's Drug Store and a bordello.

As with Portland, these tunnels were often used for seedy purposes, including the illegal transport of liquor during prohibition. The passageways themselves were built by early Chinese immigrants, who used them to escape persecution above ground as well as to house their businesses, including a prolific opium market with opium dens.

In the Bordello, otherwise respectable citizens of the city could escape through the tunnels undetected, and employ one of the Ladies of the Night for one to four dollars, depending on the desirability of the woman.

Underground Cities In Europe

Paris: The Catacombs

The Catacombs under Paris, France are world-famous - they spiderweb more than 300 feet beneath the city streets. A part of this vast labyrinth is in fact a limestone quarry that has been harvested to make the buildings, sidewalks, monuments and bridges.

A part of these catacombs became a mass grave for more than 6 million people: the wealthy or poor, the insane and sane, the pure and corrupt - death is indeed the great leveler of humanity. The builders piled bones indiscriminately atop one another without thought to who they belong to, only how to save the maximum amount of space. During the Revolution, when land was scarce and the cemeteries overcrowded, the government decided to move the bones of the dead to the empty quarries.

Visitors can see the catacombs by entering through a simple black door, head down a staircase, past a gallery, and finally through a chamber where a sign reads in French: 'Stop - this is the Empire of Death!' And still the bones fill only a fraction of these meandering tunnels, which come with a heavy fine if you are found exploring one. Those who take it upon themselves to adventure into the catacombs despite the hazards and possible fines are called 'Cataphiles.'

Underground Cities in Cappadocia, Turkey

The underground cities of Cappadocia were carved out the native rock largely due to the lack of trees for building material. As a result, the subterranean settlements are multilevel with built-in ventilation shafts, about 18 stories deep, and at one time housed over 20,000 people. Most of the cities had stables for horses hollowed out of the same volcanic rock, as well as churches, water tanks, wine cellars, tombs, missionary schools, study rooms, vertical staircases and millstone doors that rolled across to seal the entrance.

The earliest description of underground Cappadocia is in the Greek mercenary Xenophon's work titled Anabasis. "The houses were built underground," he wrote, "the entrances were like wells, but they broadened out lower down. There were tunnels dug in the ground for the animals, while the men went down by ladder. . ." Mostly, the urban complexes served as refuge for the Hittites, who used them in defense against raiders. According to historians, this enigmatic civilization vanished into thin air after ruling for nearly 800 years.

Cappadocia, Turkey

Underground Cities: The Giza Plateau

City of the Gods

Underneath the Giza Plateau is an enormous and complex underground system complete with natural caverns, snaking passageways, ancient chambers, subterranean rivers and hydraulic underground waterways.

This 'City of the Gods' was purportedly discovered after the declassification of SIRA, a ground-penetrating radar, which has been mapping these subterranean features since 1978. Led by scientist Dr. Jim Hurtak, a crew explored the megalithic metropolis, risking life and limb to penetrate into the massive chambers (supposedly bigger than our largest cathedrals) in hopes of securing ancient artifacts and caches of Egyptian records.

Some historians believe this to be the same labyrinth described by the Greek historian Herodotus: "There I saw twelve palaces regularly disposed, which had communication with each other, interspersed with terraces and arranged around twelve halls. It is hard to believe they are the work of man. The walls are covered with carved figures, and each court is exquisitely built of white marble and surrounded by a colonnade. Near the corner where the labyrinth ends, there is a pyramid, two hundred and forty feet in height, with great carved figures of animals on it and an underground passage by which it can be entered."

Speculations about the function of the City of the Gods differ; some argue that it was the center of the Egyptian mystery schools, still others believe that the Egyptians used the crisscrossing tunnels as an ancient subway system. Supposedly, the expedition that explored the underground city made a documentary about their discoveries titled "Chambers of the Deep." The film was shown to private audiences, but for reasons unknown, withheld from the general public.

Underground Church
Underground Church
boring holes for homes
boring holes for homes

Honorable Mention

Due to a reader's suggestion, Coober Pedy, Australia is being added to the list of underground cities. This remote location was used for filming in the movies Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and Red Planet. It is one of the only places in the world to have a golf course with no grass, and the only tree is one made by welding together scraps of iron.

There are underground churches, houses, hotels, bed and breakfasts, and some of the houses even have underground swimming pools. Here the reason for living underground is to conserve energy and to get away from the heat, which can skyrocket up to over 55 degrees Celsius (131 degrees).

Coober Pedy is known as the opal capital of the world. One man who was building himself an underground home with seventeen rooms found enough opals during excavation to pay for the entire thing. Now that's smart building!

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Comments 123 comments

Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 9 years ago from Georgia

Very cool! Interesting at that!

MrMarmalade profile image

MrMarmalade 9 years ago from Sydney

A hub of facts and magic and you have composed it well.Thank you

For an underground city of a different connotation and is fiction



I like your facts

Lissie profile image

Lissie 9 years ago from New Zealand

What about Coober Pedy in Australia - a real underground city - i.e. there is very little above ground!

Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet 9 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

Wow that is interesting! Thanks

Mr Nice profile image

Mr Nice 9 years ago from North America

Very interesting with lots of information. Currently there are real underground cities in Montreal & Toronto, Canada too.

Guru-C profile image

Guru-C 9 years ago

I've long been curious about the caves of Capadoccia. I didn't know about the underground of Portland. This is a truly fascinating hub!

manoharv2001 profile image

manoharv2001 9 years ago from Bangalore - 560097, Karnataka, India

hi so nice

helenathegreat profile image

helenathegreat 9 years ago from Manhattan

What an interesting hub. Thanks for sharing!

dinamars profile image

dinamars 9 years ago from France

wow... i thought underground cities could only be found in Turkey... great writing!

Roderic Aldrich profile image

Roderic Aldrich 9 years ago from Northern Vermont

I am amazed at the whole Portland part of this story. Very cool, and now I am going to dig a little deeper on Google to find out even more!

quotations profile image

quotations 8 years ago from Canada

This is fascinating. I have visited the Catacombs of Paris and they are one of the creepiest places on earth. I had not heard about the other underground cities. I would be very interested in learning more about the alleged underground city at Giza. Could you publish a hub about that?

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ripplemaker 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Cool . There's a wealth of information down there :-)

archturn profile image

archturn 8 years ago

Very interesting. Thanks

MrMarmalade profile image

MrMarmalade 8 years ago from Sydney

It occurs to me that Sydney have forgotten tunnels.

Yes I will agree they are not cities. They were tram lines. Very big.

Decrescendo profile image

Decrescendo 8 years ago

This is an interesting place.

solarshingles profile image

solarshingles 8 years ago from london

Very nice and interesting hub. There are many more places all over the world, but you mentioned the most famous. Thanks!

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mroconnell 8 years ago from France

good subject!

RFox profile image

RFox 8 years ago

Glad to see you added Coober Pedy. It came to mind as soon as you mentioned undergound cities. The Paris catacombs are truly bizarre and spectacular. Great Hub!

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AdsenseStrategies 8 years ago from CONTACT ME at

This is a GREAT post. I actually intended to write a comment on how good your first pull-in sentence was, at the beginning of the article, but as I scrolled down, and saw your photos, variety of examples covered, and detail -- great stuff.


The Adsense Strategist

helenathegreat profile image

helenathegreat 8 years ago from Manhattan

I am visiting Paris as we speak, and we explored the Catacombs earlier today. It was terrifying (I'm a little afraid of the dark, I'll admit) and wondrous and humbling all at once, and the first I heard of it was in this hub five months ago! So thanks for giving me a GREAT place to visit!!

abowie profile image

abowie 8 years ago from San Francisco

Very cool! I'm going to Paris in the spring with my boyfriend. I'll make sure we check out your find!

John 8 years ago

Very well written, I enjoyed reading this article.

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dutch84 8 years ago!!!

I'm posting it on my facebook.

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summer10 8 years ago from my happy place :)

Excellent hub!!!

AndyBaker profile image

AndyBaker 8 years ago from UK

Fascinating stuff - thanks !

SparklingJewel 8 years ago

I have read about the mystery schools underground in Egypt. Initiation temples they have been called. Great !!

Excellent Hub!

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sweat ahsaan 8 years ago


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sweat ahsaan 8 years ago

love and amazed 2 see these places i wish 2 go their sme day

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compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

Excellent hub Sarena! and some very fascinating history and facts about this subject which is so intriguing!! The nearest i get to this feeling is London underground everyday!,

CJStone profile image

CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK

The things you find on HubPages. Underground cities now! You have definitely whetted my appetite for these deep, dark places.

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Britt Azlin 8 years ago

wow, this is so phenominal! I would love to visit all of these.

Great hub!

ProCW profile image

ProCW 8 years ago from South Carolina

Very interesting! I wonder what there is to walk over in South Carolina... :)


In The Doghouse profile image

In The Doghouse 8 years ago from California

I saw a special on the History channel about this same subject... Underground cities are really very fascinating. Great Hub with really cool pictures.

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success08 8 years ago

This is so interesting.. I had no idea that such places existed.

starrkissed profile image

starrkissed 8 years ago from Arizona

this is so neat! thank you for sharing!

Ms Sooz profile image

Ms Sooz 8 years ago from Northern California

I love underground places! I would love to build a home underground. Thanks for the great hub :)

Sandilyn profile image

Sandilyn 8 years ago from Port Orange, FL

That was a great hub!

I enjoy the unique and underground places have always interested me. I was not aware of some of the places that you mentioned such as Montana. I can fully understand the need for people to find a place to get away from others due to persecution.

From the beginning of time people have built these structures and I wonder why we don't now for energy reasons,

easegiri profile image

easegiri 8 years ago from Bangalore

Good, article, underground is a place for not only hiding for children but also a place for meditation and other activities.  There are doomsday undergrounds too.

jay 8 years ago

Seattle has a good sized underground, mostly in the Denny regrade area, there the higher streets were sluiced, with the lower portions being raised by 10 feet or more, hence Seattle's underground came to be.

SALLY BUGG 8 years ago


LYNDA 8 years ago

I LOVED THIS PIECE OF WORK , SO FASANATING TO ME , And so AMAZING AND I HAVE TO SAY UNBELIEVABLE , just blows you away to think of the accomplishments in that time?

DaveHarris profile image

DaveHarris 8 years ago from London, UK

Good article!

The most famous "underground" in Europe has to be the catacombs of Rome. They are quite extensive and many are still in use today. One large area (actually several connecte cacverns) is a famous restaurant "Da Meo Patacca". I've eaten there and it's fascinating - if a little scary :)

betherickson profile image

betherickson 8 years ago from Minnesota

Wow, this is amazing. I never have seen this images before but I heard from heresay that underground cities exists a long time ago. Those underground caverns looks creepy but it's quite fascinating. Great hub! :)

KSTEAM profile image

KSTEAM 8 years ago from Scottsdale, AZ

I have heard about that. Very interesting info.

Mel Sun 8 years ago

WOW, I would love to explore,unfortunately I am stuck in South Africa but I do get to see the things you see through the web, so thank you so much on your hub.

Check out my hub:

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The Lost Dutchman 8 years ago from Flanders (Belgium)

I love those "urban exploration photographs and videos"... and this is something like that! Great Hub!

starcatchinfo profile image

starcatchinfo 8 years ago

i love to live there. cool & quite place. thanks for the hub

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starcatchinfo 8 years ago



Tomas 8 years ago

Excellent Hub! Very interesting.

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newcapo 8 years ago

This is so interesting....great topic. Thoroughly enjoyed your hub.

RGraf profile image

RGraf 8 years ago from Wisconsin

I loved it. I enjoy the TV show so I naturally was drawn to your title. Keep up the good work.

A J HART 8 years ago

This really arouses the imagination to a point where it could be factual, I'm sure a portion is true. Gibralter could have been included. I'm fed up with murder mystereis on TV

megamass profile image

megamass 8 years ago from Portugal

Great post! Thanks for the information!

victorjo 8 years ago

I had been Capadoccia, Turkey last year. it was really fantastic. There

jason5look@ 8 years ago

This is mysterious topic. i heard that there are more than 200 underground cities in capadoccia. and only 9 cities is opened to public. wooooow. i want to go turkey and see these cities.

Chele 8 years ago

Very Fascinating indeed!!! Never knew about Australia. I have always read about the catacombs in France. That is creepy but also fascinating at the same time. I wonder how many "small" towns or cities have the same? I bet we would all be astonished. I know where I live in Southwest Virginia that there are several "natural" occuring caverns under some of the towns, but I have yet to hear or read of anything like Portland, but it would now surprise me if they were not used as well during prohibition. Great information and great writing!!!!!!!!!!!

Rhiannon 8 years ago

I had heard of the underground cities and catacombs, but I didn't know they were so widely dispersed. I had sort of thought that they were mythical. Reading this gave me chills. I want to go see these underground cities sometime.

Non facture 8 years ago

Great thanks for info... all great

shezz3085 profile image

shezz3085 8 years ago from Philippines

I really love your hub

Jawad UK 8 years ago

You have done a great job. I'm lovin it.

oparu profile image

oparu 8 years ago from Jamaica Plain, MA

This is an awesome hub!

El Rey xiv 8 years ago

Wow I just read a book with an underground city. I only knew of the one the presidinant made.

Cornelia Gatlin 8 years ago

I lived in Portland for years and luckily never fell in to any whole and got trapped-underground. Portland and Seattle a great places to visit and to live if you have the money.

raypharma dot com 7 years ago


thats amazing.

MotherHubber 7 years ago

I enjoyed reading this - very interesting content!

LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

Just read this hub - it's great. Makes me shiver, though, the idea of having a quiet drink then ending up press-ganged on to a ship!

Heartnote profile image

Heartnote 7 years ago from Veradale, Washington

Very interesting hub. Those places sound very fascinating.

powerspike profile image

powerspike 7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

some great information, quite a different take on the underworld, if i ever travel to one of these cities, i'm going to make sure i'll check them out. Thanks for the hub!

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Aubrey Allyn 7 years ago from Laguna Beach

This is such an interesting and well written HUB. Kudos!!

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mdawson17 7 years ago

Very interesting and fascinating!! I had never seen pictures of it before THANK YOU!


Ninerfan3 7 years ago

What about Underground Seattle? We visited there in 1978 and were dissapointed that it didn't make your list. It's a fascinating place.

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Bbudoyono 7 years ago

Very interesting !

Vietnam 7 years ago

Thanks for your post!!!

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cowgirljess 7 years ago from Nor Cal

I think it would be way cool to have an underground house or a paortian underground. Great article.

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Lou Purplefairy 7 years ago from Southwest UK

Great hub. You may want to check out the catacombs in Exeter UK

Maverick_999 profile image

Maverick_999 7 years ago from Dubai, U.A.E

very cool stuff, i never knew about so many of them

zaina-777 profile image

zaina-777 7 years ago

Wow excellent hub, would love to go see all those places one day! Great information thankyou.

DG 7 years ago

I think it would be interesting to see what various governments have constructed over the centurys that we've never known about and probly never will know about them.

LM 7 years ago

I visited Havre under ground last year and was amazed that this exists in such a small beautiful town. The tour guide was extremely knowledgable. If you are in Montana, take the tour. It's worth it. Great Hub.

documentaryvideos profile image

documentaryvideos 7 years ago

it's an interesting place to live. it must have an interesting. pretty cool.

thanks for sharing.

animefan1.0 7 years ago

This is so amazing! I can't believe anything like this even exists. Fantastic!

Nancy Wisser 7 years ago

interesting. I would love to learn more about the tunnels in Tabor, Czech Republic. I've heard they go 5 or 6 layers deep.

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ratnaveera 7 years ago from Cumbum

Incredible! Thanks for sharing these interesting facts! You have also added nice photos! Again Thanks!

sannyasinman profile image

sannyasinman 7 years ago

Fascinating stuff. You write well, and should post more hubs!

Marco 7 years ago

I know a city who has got many tunnels and never been explore why I know? because I was raise there get back to me!

hypnodude profile image

hypnodude 7 years ago from Italy

Very very interesting hub. I'm not from that city, but I've heard that Naples too has a big underground part. Used still today for various reasons.

laringo profile image

laringo 7 years ago from From Berkeley, California.

This is so cool and remarkable about was may live below us. Subjects like this are always so welcome and interesting. Great job!

Claudia Peterson 6 years ago

We are going to read City of Ember for our last six weeks and so I started doing research on underground cities. I liked your hub it is great. My students will be creating their own city underground.

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OverObservant 6 years ago

WOW, i am writing a 5 page essay on underground cities, that was extrememly helpeful and fascinating, i love the intro about falling through the trap doors!

mica 6 years ago


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katrinasui 6 years ago

Wow! It is very interesting. Excellent Hub.

Torry 6 years ago

Incredible hub!

I never heard about any underground city.

The pix are also amazing.

hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan

Interesting and useful. I am about take a 2 months tour of Europe and on return would go to "whirrling dervash" city of Turky.

Thanks for a good hub.

Cheap Click Code 6 years ago

It really very interesting stuff here. Very much new for me at least.

FB Siphon 6 years ago

Thanks for sharing this all. You are really exploring the world in a great way.

Quick Cash Concept 6 years ago

Thanks for this share dude. Really these are very much new for me. I will be visiting some soon.

Hajj Packages 6 years ago

Thank you for your post, it was really informative, and your way of expression was great, you described things in a great way, making the reader feel that the things are infront of them.

Sedric 6 years ago

I love the article about The Catacombs. Great in dept knowledge. Keep up the good work

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DavidLivingston 6 years ago

Very nice! It interests me much. I liked it.

Bekkah Campbell 6 years ago

I was happy to read this but i was hopping to learn more about the underground town in Australia. I also would love to learn more about the underground city of the past IDK where it is located though but by the carveings its been said that beings from elswhere called the Ant people came to help the humans build it and live there for a certain time and afterward. This city was huge even had stables for all sorts of animals and a huge rolling door witch could only be open thru the inside of the town. So it was most likely used to lock out someone or thing

stoney p 6 years ago

man that is some crazy stuff. I'm almost intrigued to do some of the same myself

Cna Jobs 6 years ago

good job..!

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crystolite 5 years ago from Houston TX

Nice caption. I like reading from you.

cpr recertification 5 years ago

Quite informative i must say and also it was presented very well.

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mtsi1098 5 years ago

fantastic hub...I guess it is true that you never know where an open door leads :)

cheap Hajj packages 5 years ago

Thanks for sharing good information. It's a good job.

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applejuic3 5 years ago from San Diego, CA

wow this is really cool. i never knew this, great information and finds.

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Dardia 5 years ago from Michigan

This would be a great way to conserve energy today all over the world. Very nice and informative hub.

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maxravi 5 years ago from India

nice took me to a new world.thanks and nice pics.

Darla Marie Magdelein DeNunzio 5 years ago

Under Times Square in NYC is a wonderful little restaurant named "Baby's". You can get all kinds of gelato and pasta there for cheap. On Sundays after late mass, they run specials on zuppo and frappes. It's in an old natural grotto far beneath the street. Truly fascinating!

Gerhard Smith, Ph.D. 5 years ago

Re: Baby's: There's a rumor and much hard proof that a now dried up, huge underground lake used to run through the old grotto and, for that matter, most of what is now Manhattan and the lower Hudson Valley. It was used by some sort of ancient religious sect for dark rituals as far back as 25,000 B.C. or earlier. It's hard to put a date on it when you go that far back in time. But indications are still there if you know where to look.

Francis McMasters 5 years ago

All this information is great!

Dr Rockpile profile image

Dr Rockpile 5 years ago from USA

I've seen photos of Coober Pedy, but that's the only one I'd heard of before this Hub.

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donate-timeshares 5 years ago

wow this was very interesting. I wonder if there are underground cities with people actually living in them that just haven't been discovered.

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nifwlseirff 5 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

Well written and informative! I love that you have included Cooper Pedy. :-)

For Bekkah Campbell above - here is are are couple of YouTube videos:

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Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

What about underground New York City?

Annie P. 5 years ago

What about it?!

Annomonous 5 years ago

Wow why did they post this is it specificly says hidden or secret now there not secret anymore lol I would keep this a secret

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coffeealera 4 years ago

Wow, who knew eh? I really enjoyed reading your hub, you showed some really interesting places.

Voted up and awesome for you.

Andy, from

tienhoang951 4 years ago

oh my god what sceary

Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

What a great hub and thanks for sharing.

I now look forward to so many more.


Trevor 3 years ago

Thanks great hub well written

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Peter Geekie 4 months ago from Sittingbourne

Thank you for an excellent, well researched article. I wonder why it is that so many humans have this desire to go underground.

kind regards Peter

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