Thursday, September 12, 2013
Kansas City's Subtropolis
I lived in Wichita, Kansas for 15 years. I began a career there, at one of four enormous data centers belonging to - at the time - the second largest insurer in the world. Every day, we shipped a thousand - or often, many more - half-inch computer tapes to a secure underground facility 50 miles away to a Hutchinson facility called Underground Vaults & Storage. Google it. Fascinating. After transferring to a brand new data center in Rensselaer, New York, I became solely responsible for the procurement, development, and management of a local secure data storage facility. Enter Iron Mountain in Kingston, NY - another worthy Google. My point is, I am very familiar with secure commercial underground storage. Yet, I've never visited one in person - until now. The SubTropolis facility in Kansas City was completely unknown to me, and impressive as hell. We delivered pallets of preprinted material - likely product labels - to a company dock at pillar 243. Yes, that's their underground address system. Pillar number. We entered the facility via a single-wide tunnel carved into the limestone hill, and well over a mile later, over underground train tracks, past scores of company docks carved into the limestone and scores of tractors trailers backing into perfectly normal looking shipping and receiving bays, past employee parking lots and picnic tables and smoking areas, past underground intersections and stop signs, past thick columns of whitewashed limestone, we reached our consignee and completed delivery. Although I don't have pics, the interior looked much the same as the dock - carved of rock, painted white, with ample space between, but much better lit. This delivery was an Unforgettable.