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NO ADDITIONAL Take Back Our City rallies ever took place. Mrs. Wisher was given an honorary post in the city government as community liaison, and—when a new administration was elected the following year—worked closely with it to increase civic awareness. A vest pocket park on East 53rd Street was dedicated to the memory of Pamela Wisher.

Laura Hayward turned down an offered promotion, electing instead to leave the department and complete her graduate studies at New York University.

Bill Smithback’s firsthand account of the events of that night went on to spend several months on the hardcover bestseller lists, despite heavy prepublication editing by government officials under the direction of Special Agent Pendergast. In the end, Margo persuaded Smithback—bullied might be a better word—into donating half of his earnings to various homeless missions and charity foundations.

One year to the day after the flooding of the Astor Tunnels, Pendergast, D’Agosta, and Margo Green met for lunch at a famous seafood restaurant near the South Street Seaport. Although their conversation remains their own, when they left the restaurant D’Agosta was sporting a large—and apparently relieved—grin.

Author's Note

WHILE THE EVENTS and characters portrayed in this novel are fictitious, much of the underground setting and its population are not. It has been estimated that as many as five thousand or more homeless people have lived in the vast warren of underground tracks, subway tunnels, ancient aqueducts, coal tunnels, old sewers, abandoned stations and waiting rooms, disused gas mains, old machine rooms, and other spaces that riddle underground Manhattan. Grand Central Station alone sits above seven stories of tunnels, and in some places the underground works extend more than thirty stories beneath the city. The Astor Tunnels, with their elegant stations crumbling into dust, actually exist, on a smaller scale and under a different name. No comprehensive maps exist of underground Manhattan. It is a truly unexplored and dangerous territory.

Much of what is described in Reliquary about the underground homeless—or Mole people—is true. (Some prefer to call themselves “houseless,” for they consider their underground spaces home.) In many underground areas the homeless have organized themselves into communities. Some of the Mole people who live in these communities have not been aboveground for weeks or months—or even longer—and their eyes have adjusted to the extremely low levels of light. They live on food brought down by “runners,” sometimes supplemented with “track rabbit” as described in the novel. They cook on campfires or steam pipes, and purloin electricity and water from the many conduits and pipes that run underground. At least one of these communities has a part-time schoolteacher—for there are also children living underground, often brought down by their mothers to avoid having them taken away by the state and put in foster care. Mole people do communicate in the dark over long distances by tapping on pipes. And finally, there are homeless who claim to have seen a fabulous, decaying nineteenth-century waiting room deep underground, with mirrored and tiled walls, a fountain, a grand piano, and a huge crystal chandelier, similar to the Crystal Pavilion described in Reliquary.

It should also be noted that in certain important instances the authors have altered, moved, or embellished what exists under Manhattan for purposes of the story.

The authors feel that it is not asking too much of our wealthy country that the underground homeless be given the medical care, psychiatric help, shelter, and respect that should be the basic rights of all human beings in a civilized society.

The authors are indebted to the book, The Mole People, by Jennifer Toth (Chicago Review Press, 1993). Readers interested in the factual account of the subterra incognita of Manhattan are urged to read this excellent, thought-provoking, and at times frightening study.