Humans are known to live in some of the harshest conditions on the planet.While many of them made the decision to live in such places, others had no other choice. In order to survive, some were forced to make a decision such as to live underground. As crazy as it may sound, these communities of people are either homeless or have very little options.
1. The orphans of bucharest
Romania is filled with plenty of beautiful sights and people, however, if you travel to the heart of the EU from Bucharest’s Gara du Nord, you will come across an entrance to an underground world that is completely discarded. The sewers are filled with hundreds of orphans who had no other choice but to move inside when a 1989 change in government caused all orphanages to shut down.
By late afternoon, these men, women and children crawl out of a small hole in the ground; like the undead. The old tunnels were part of Ceausescu’s grand design to centrally heat the city. Now, the tunnels are home to many that are either HIV positive or have TB. Most of them scavenge the trash for food and have families of their own inside the tunnels. While the government is trying to force its inhabitants out of the sewer systems, they always find a way back inside to what they call home. The underground community also has a leader who goes by “Bruce Lee”. He decides who can come inside and who has to leave.
2. The homeless community that live beneath Manhattan.
New York City has long been struggling with homeless people. Reports show that since 2006, the number of homeless people seeking shelter has grown rapidly; surpassing 58,000 every night. These numbers however, do not include the ones who seek refuge on the streets and under Manhattan. Photographer and filmmaker Andrea Star Reese discovered a community of such people who were living beneath the ground in makeshift tents.
Reese met with the homeless men and women and documented her journey for seven years. People who are shunned by modern society have been seeking asylum in a tunnel that runs 2.5 miles from 72nd street to 122nd street in Manhattan, directly under Riverside Park. Today, even though the homeless are being chased away from the tunnels by authorities (since there are plans to reuse the tunnel for Amtrak), they are finding ways back inside.
3. The homeless people of Moscow.
As of 2015, rampant inflation and a sizeable decline in real wages, forced an estimated 2.3 million Russians to fall below the poverty line. According to the NGO, more than 100,000 people are now living on the streets of Moscow but the government keeps denying it. Whatever the figure is, homelessness represents a huge challenge to the government; especially during cold and harsh winters.
Many of the homeless men and women from Moscow have taken it upon themselves to find a place to stay. Around 50,000 of them are run-away orphans who flee into the sewers during the harsh Russian Winter.
4. The tunnel people of Vegas.
The Sin City is known for many things. Beneath those glittering lights and water fountains lies a series of flood tunnels, home to more than 1,000 homeless people. Some have even furnished their spots to include beds and book shelves; in hopes of starting a family one day. Their possessions are carefully placed in plastic crates to stop the floating water from soaking them.
Many of the tunnels’ inhabitants moved in after losing their jobs due to gambling addictions. There are also a lot of people with mental health issues and substance abuse problems. These people manage to survive by picking up money dropped by drunks or from people forgetting chips behind on machines. Some of them purposely live beneath the city because they enjoy the freedom. The sad part is that even though many of these men and women manage to make around $600 a night by picking up lost chips in casinos, they blow through the entire wad by the end of the night.
5. The underground miners in Coober Pedy.
Opal is a rare gemstone that is mainly found in Australia. Although it is found in Brazil, Mexico, Honduras and the western US, Australia produces 95% of the world’s precious opal. The gemstones are not that easy to find and have to be dug out of mines. And life as an opal miner isn’t as easy as it looks. Mining is a dangerous job and Australia can be pretty hot at times. In a country where temperatures reach over 110 degrees and shade isn’t actually a thing that exists, people had to come up with an alternative.
While Australia overall produces 95% of the opal, Coober Pedy produces 70% of that. The conditions around the mine are ridiculous, but in this desert town people have found a way to thrive. Homes surrounding Coober Pedy have facades that lead its residents underground towards the caves. Below the ground, the temperature stays a constant 75 degrees F all year long. There’s even an underground museum and a Serbian Orthodox Church. It is estimated that the town surrounding Coober Pedy is a network of over 1,500 homes, each 2.4–6.7 meters (8–22 ft) underground.
6. The rat tribe of China.
Most Chinese citizens cannot afford to live in Beijing. The metropolitan area requires a minimum of $60 each day to survive and rent can be as much as $1,000 per month for a single room. Almost 5% of residents in Beijing choose to live underground in overcrowded basements or underground air raid shelters. This is because the rent is cheap, however, the living conditions are horrible. Some rooms are barely wider than a single bed.
These people are locally known as the “rat tribe” and are discriminated against by higher class citizens. Most of the renters of these underground rooms are young men and women who cannot afford private housing or those who wish to save a few bucks. Estimates suggest there may be more than one million people living underneath the Chinese capital.
7. The underground migrant town in Moscow.
In 2013, Moscow police raided a secret underground city, only to find that it was complete with a cinema, casino and factory that produced blades, needles and safety pins. The secret underground city had living quarters, a cafe and even a chicken coop. There were 200 residents living inside who were all staying in the country without a legal basis.
This, however, was not the first time Moscow police had unearthed an underground city. Back in 2011, another underground city filled with illegal migrants was discovered in an abandoned Soviet-era bomb shelter.
8. Sewers home to vagrant homeless Colombians.
Before 1990, homeless men and women lived on the streets in Columbia. Wealthy businessmen however, saw them as nuisances and hired death squads to eradicate them. Facing death, the homeless population moved to the sewers for safety. The death squad, which primarily consists of ex-soldiers and police officers, hunt them day and night.
Although they have moved into the sewers filled with human waste, rats and diseases, to get away from the violence above ground, the paramilitary death squads chase them into the pipes and take lives. Reports show that between 1988 and 1994, more than 3,000 homeless people were hunted down and killed. Today, most of the men and women stay inside the sewer system and rarely go outside; hoping that the death squads never find their hiding spots.
9. Nightlife inside Paris Catacombs.
The City of Lights has miles upon miles of tunnels below, which was dug out during Roman times to build the city. Within those tunnels lay millions of skeletons from cemeteries which were removed to make room for expansion. Today, going inside the catacombs is strictly forbidden and carries a hefty fine for those who are caught. Nevertheless, people always find a way to sneak in.
Back in 2004, during a training exercise, cops stumbled upon something other than skeletons. Deep inside the catacombs, authorities discovered a movie theater with a restaurant. They left to bring some engineers to figure out where the power source was and upon their return, everything vanished into thin air. The only thing left behind was a note that said: “Do not try to find us”.
10. Farmers of Loess plateau, Yan’an, China, live in caves.
It might be hard to believe that more than 30 million Chinese people still live in caves. As hard as it is to believe, many of them in Shaanxi province, next to the Loess plateau, choose to live in the caves. The farmers in Yan’an, China, choose to carve dwelling caves into the mountain. Family members living within the same neighborhood would carve their caves together so a family can have several chambers.
These people choose to live in caves since they can use the land to farm instead of building houses. Since many of the caves have been passed on from one generation to another, the current residents aren’t exactly sure of how long ago the caves were built.