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August 22, 2014

The Robin Williams tunnel, giant spiders, and the world’s most expensive corridor

By City Monitor Staff

Here’s a round-up of city stories we enjoyed this week – including giant arachnids, mouth statues and a moving tunnel renaming proposal.

  • This post at Gizmodo on the world’s most expensive hallway. The corridor in question is 600 feet long and links an office block to what will be the World Trade Center transport hub via an underground tunnel.

The hub, currently under construction, will cost a total of $4bn (making it the world’s most expensive train station) – but apparently this short stretch of walkway alone cost $225m. Tunnels are always pricey, of course – but the liberal use of white marble to construct the floors and walls may have been a little excessive.

  • This research, showing that city life makes spiders bigger, fatter and (shudder) more fertile. A team of Australian scientists found that, surprisingly, orb-weaving spiders were larger in environments with hard surfaces and man-made disturbances than they were in plush, vegetation-filled landscapes. They credited this to the “urban heat island effect”, in which pollution and human activity makes cities warmer than their surrounding areas. You can read more about it over on the New Statesman website. In summary: run. Just run.
  • These Mayan cities, recently discovered in the Mexican state of Campeche. Archaeologists unearthed two ancient settlements, including pyramid-shaped temples, palace remains, alters, and a giant, mouth-shaped facade (probably used as an entrance or doorway).

According to Discovery News, one of the cities was named Lagunita in the 1970s by the explorer Eric Von Euw, who sketched some of the stone structures but failed to note its location. Archaeologists have been trying to find it ever since. Gives “lost city” a whole new meaning, doesn’t it.

  • This petition to change the name of the Waldo tunnel in San Francisco to the “Robin Williams tunnel”. The tunnel, famous for its rainbow-painted entrance, isn’t far from the late actor’s home.

So far, the petition has collected over 12,000 signatures, and Marc Levine, a local politician, has shown enthusiasm for the idea. The petition’s creator, who lived two miles from Williams, says on its Change.org page:

“I want to remember and honor this very important citizen here in our community for the joy he brought to the world and to bring awareness to the silent illness that eventually took his life.”

The Waldo Tunnel. Image: Edward Betts.

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