For anyone who's ever dreamed of having their own Batcave or Ninja Turtle-inspired underground lair, you might do well to grab a shovel and head to Queens, because it turns out that there's probably an insane abandoned mansion buried under a soccer field.. and everyone forgot about it. Well, almost everyone.
In New York City, where there's nowhere to to build but up, the rent generally tags along with the number of floors. But what if we built down instead? The same question was asked by the New York World's Fair in 1964 when they built The Underground Home, a sprawling, 12,000 foot, subterranean mansion situated under Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens. Of course, after the World's Fair had concluded, most of the creations were demolished.. but historians have reason to believe that the Underground Home was simply covered over, left to be discovered by anyone curious enough to search for the opening.
The Underground Home exhibit cost a mere $1 to tour in 1964, and was intended to demonstrate the luxuries of living in a subterranean home. The massive, ten-room mansion was equipped with an advanced air filtration system, a diesel generator, sewage disposal system, and even an optional underground pool, but despite all of of this, living underground never really took off, and other than the display model, none of the $80,000 homes were built. But what happened to the display?
In 2012, journalist Nicholas Hirshon took a deeper look into the mystery with his article "Is it Down There?". The piece chronicled the efforts of people like Dr. Lori Walters, a professor, and Steven Quinterno, a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, who believe that the home may still exist below Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
Walters, who is a Research Assistant Professor at the Institute for Simulation and Training and Department of History at the University of Central Florida, thinks the modern-day archaeological site is worth looking into as a learning tool. "My interest in the Underground Home stems from its potential to introduce middle school children to urban archaeology," she told us. "If we can secure the proper permissions and funding, it can provide children an opportunity to observe and participate in portions of a limited exploration of the site."
According to Walters, the goal of her project to uncover the truth about the Underground Home isn't to unearth it, or even provide access to it should the structure still exist, but instead to crawl through the subterranean mansion with a miniature robot, kind of like many researchers have done with the Egyptian pyramids.
"I am proposing a small robotic device that the children could navigate and explore," Walters said. "In each step, children could learn about robotics and the science behind the archaeology techniques – in addition to discovering the history of underground homes, the 1964/1965 New York World's Fair and 1960s America."
For more on the mystery of the Underground Home, head over to Inhabitat.com.
For a whole bunch of the coolest underground dwellings you can actually explore, scope out this map of Apocalypse Strongholds Across America: