A Beautiful Waste

In New York, climbing down a manhole can take you into an entirely different world

Jon Kasbe

5 minutes

A Beautiful Waste

  • Urban historian and photographer Steve Duncan climbs down manholes to explore the subterranean world of sewers, tunnels and buried natural streams. In subterranean New York City, a place usually associated with muck and stench, he finds a stunning, otherworldy environment, a reminder that a massive technological edifice sits directly beneath our cities. Duncan returns to the surface with images that reveal the history and complexity of the city, but you can tell it’s the experience he values most. “You feel like the last man on earth down there,” he says, “and that’s incredibly rare in New York.”

  • Director Biography:

    Jon likes meeting people and finding stories. Film is a way for him to share the stories he cares about. This past year his work has been recognized by the Emmys, Webbys, SXSW, DOC NYC and Pictures of the Year International.

  • Director: Jon Kasbe
  • Producer: Laura Ruel, Chad Stevens
  • Editor: Jon Kasbe
  • Cinematographer: Jon Kasbe
  • Original Music: Keith Kenniff

  • Running Time: 5 minutes
  • Website:

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  • Joan Lederman

    Having just created a photo-essay/website for a septic tank and leaching field project called “Ode to a Hole”,, I feel I’ve met a comrade. Cities are so different from small plots of land but similar is the vision and curiosity to reveal what’s underneath. Inspiring.