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Seeing Cities from Underground

Underground shopping -- seems illegal, doesn’t it? Not when referring to a network of tunnels lined with shops and restaurants, which sit below the surface of multiple major cities. These walkways often stretch over several city blocks, and link office buildings, hotels, subway stations -- and the list goes on.

As the cold weather rolls in, this is the perfect opportunity to venture out, well down, and explore the intricate underworlds of various cities worldwide. Often unnoticed while perusing at ground level, most of the tunnels have access points from within the buildings they link or marked street level entry points.

Head down under where the temperatures stay warm in:

Montreal: Moving more than half a million people per day in the winter months, the RÉSO (meaning network) takes the prize as the world’s largest underground network. The city planned it so well that often times people don’t even realize they are walking through the 32 kilometers (20 miles) of shops, office buildings, museums and more. Stretching over 41 city blocks and covering 12 square kilometers (1.4 sq miles), Montreal’s underground city, La Ville Souterraine, can be accessed through apartments, city buildings and universities or from street level access points marked with branded RÉSO signs.  Click here to view a RÉSO map.

Toronto: Named the PATH, Toronto’s underground walkway spans over 28 kilometers (17 miles) of the downtown core and has been listed by Guinness World Records as the largest underground shopping complex in the world. Home to 371,600 square meters (4 million square feet) of retail space, the PATH boasts approximately 1200 shops and services and connects more than 50 buildings -- including five subway stations, a railway terminal, major shopping malls, hotels and entertainment complexes. Click to visit the official PATH website or view this map.

Chicago: The Chicago Pedway, much like the RÉSO and PATH, is a network of tunnels, bridges and ground-level concourses spanning across 40 downtown blocks. The tunnel walls are brought to life with public art, shops and restaurants, and the network can be accessed from hotels, office buildings and a shopping favorite, Macy’s. Click here for a Chicago Pedway map.  

Atlanta: The Underground Atlanta officially opened in 1969, but the foundation has been there from as early as 1866 and was the first surface level of downtown Atlanta. Much of the original architecture still outfits this six block underground city of retail shops, restaurants and nightclubs. Visitors to Underground Atlanta will be happy to know the bars are open half an hour later than those above ground, and drinks can be carried from bar to bar. Take a peek at the official Underground Atlanta website.

Sydney, Australia: Tourists and locals may already be down under in Sydney, but why not head even further south into Sydney’s underground shopping district? Surrounding the Town Hall railway station (the second busiest station in Sydney), shoppers can stroll over 3 kilometers, starting at the Queen Victoria Building to Galleries Victoria and Sydney Central  Plaza. The Central Plaza also links five other areas through indoor walkways above ground.

Japan: Japan takes things underground in multiple cities, here are the five largest in the country: Crysta Nagahori (the longest underground shopping street), Yaesu Chikagai, Kawasaki Azalea (the second largest underground mall in the nation), Tenjin Chikagai and Diamor Osaka.

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Tips by

Deal Expert, Toronto
Monday, November 8, 2010
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Joanna Richler