Who owns the space under cities? The attempt to map the ground beneath our feet

The space under cities is getting busier – from transport excavations to billionaire’s mega-basements. So how to keep track of what’s down there? Just over a year ago I was sent a photograph of a tunnel-boring machine in a dirt lot in Los Angeles. The caption read: “Elon Musk is about to start digging.” The message was from Wayne Chambliss, a geographer in southern California, who tends to be prescient in such matters – and indeed, Musk’s freshly minted Boring Company soon set its machine loose, ripping through the subsurface soil under the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne to create a short tunnel. Continue reading...

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