ODE TO THE LONDON UNDERGROUND
When defining the Underground You might list some statistics, You might mention 249 miles of track, or 1.1 billion who ride, You might ride up the 426 escalators, and then back down again, You might stay on one Tube train, traveling 114 thousand miles one year, Might even mention the lifts, totaling 164 in all, or that there are 270 stations served, 260 stations managed, and 19,000 who help you manage When defining London’s Underground, it seems a traveler’s anthem has been a moan, and a groan, and maybe that’s where they are At the oft’ signal failure, it’s true Being packed like sardines at the peak of the day, but when defining London’s Underground, don’t forget to mention nearly 2.7 million journeys each, and every day.
The trains whiz by, and oftentimes screech, they jump, they jolt on many miles of track, but all 4,134 get you to the spot where you wish to be And, yes,
Waterloo is busiest in the a.m. when 57 thou’ hop on, and go, though nearly 82 million use it each year making it the liveliest of the lot. Though the Circle Line is said to be torture going slowly round, and round, The network goes under only 40% while the rest is on top of the ground, And, 29 stations placed south of the Thames, really not very many at all Regent’s Park, Hyde Park Corner, Bank, then Piccadilly have no buildings to mark their spot. The District Line serves sixty stations Piccadilly fifty-two, While the Northern and Central stop at fifty-one and forty-nine, respectively.
50 steps will take you up Chancery Lane for a short journey up the escalator, While a whopping 318 await at Angel for the longest western European glide. The first was at Earls Court in 1911, when a one-legged man took the first step. Bumper Harris taught us to stand right, and let the movers go on the left. 400 plus escalators to ride each, and every week will take you ‘round the world, and that is no small fete Up, down, moving around is what you see all day, Four flat moving conveyors make the walk ever so slight, but only Bank and Waterloo let you take this flight.
The temps are 10C warmer well down below, though buskers may jam to their music making you hum through the tunnels long after passing away.
The Underground name came to be in 1908, yet “Mind the Gap,” could not be heard till the year of ’68. You know the famous “roundel,” more than a hundred years old, and Henry Beck’s famous map is still in use today.
Love it, hate it, or be indifferent all the same, a nuisance, a god-send – whatever it means to you, the Underground is cracking it’s the way London made it be.