In the urban and semi-urban spaces of today, we’re surrounded by storage spaces, ranging from dockyards and warehouses to high-rise buildings. However, it’s easy to forget how much of the world’s storage space exists below the ground.
Making use of subterranean storage space is also far from a new trend. Throughout history, people have made use of underground spaces to store everything from potatoes and valued collections of wine to the remains of loved ones.
In 1974, farmers in Xi’an, China were drilling for water when they accidentally discovered the vast, underground necropolis built for the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huangdi.
Within the necropolis, enormous pits were found to contain the now famous Terracotta Army, consisting of life-size statues of over 8,000 soldiers, 130 horse-drawn chariots and 150 cavalry horses. Separate to the buried army, the actual tomb of the Emperor is roughly the size of a football field.
Catacombs of Paris
Below the streets of the City of Light, there lies another world – an estimated 400 kilometres of underground tunnels, caves and abandoned quarries, some dating as far back as Roman times. This subterranean labyrinth is home to the world’s largest grave.
By the late 1700s, cemeteries in Paris had become severely overcrowded. Authorities turned to the abandoned quarries below the city’s streets as a solution, relocating the bones of the deceased into renovated tunnels and crypts. Today it’s estimated that the Catacombs of Paris store the bones of between six and seven million people.
© photo by Subtropolis
Cited as the world’s largest underground storage facility, SubTropolis is a man-made, underground cave in Missouri. It spans 4.5 square kilometres – and every year, it gets bigger as mining operations hollow more rooms out of the surrounding limestone. 11 kilometres of underground, paved roads make it possible to traverse this vast, subterranean space.
© photo by Underground Vaults & Storage
An abandoned salt mine in the middle of Kansas is home to one of the world’s deepest and most secure storage facilities. Built during the Cold War to protect sensitive assets in the event of nuclear attack, the Hutchinson Facility is nearly 200 metres, or 45 storeys, below the ground. It occupies the equivalent of 35 football fields of space.
Today a range of businesses and individuals use the facility to store their valuable belongings. It’s especially popular with the film industry, thanks to the constant temperature and humidity levels below ground.
World’s largest underground LNG storage tank in Japan
© photo by House of Japan
Yokohama City in Japan is host to the world’s largest underground storage tank for liquefied natural gas (LNG). The tank took Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Shimuzu Corporation four years to build, and can store an incredible 250 million litres of LNG. It’s over 60 metres deep and 72 metres across. The inside of the tank is lined with stainless steel plates.
XtraSpace: Secure self-storage
As of yet, we don’t have an underground storage facility, but we are one of the biggest self-storage providers in the country. So if you’re looking for personal or business storage space above the ground, contact us at XtraSpace and we’ll be happy to help. Our storage solutions are available at branches throughout South Africa.