Fake Buildings Hiding In Plain Sight

They look like houses, apartment buildings, waterfront offices, even a laboratory. However, those are just innocent facades designed to camouflage the structures’ true nature. The picture above is a perfect example. New York City's Holland Tunnel has four connected buildings above the middle of it, built just to house vents, and this is just one of them. Some elements of a city’s infrastructure — like train passages and electrical substations — take up too much space to be underground or are otherwise eyesores. So, an elegant way to house these pieces of ugly infrastructure is inside a fake building. In places like New York, London, and Toronto, many substations and portals are houses in buildings made to blend in with the urban landscape. After all, who wants to see a bunch of townhouses interrupted by power plants and ventilation shafts? Here are some of the buildings you would never know are fake.


23/24 Leinster Gardens, London
A couple of blocks north of Buckingham Palace, there’s a literal facade — just the face of a building — that opens up to train tracks underground.

58 Joralemon Street, New York City
This building is owned by the New York Transit Authority and houses a ventilator and an emergency passageway between the Bowling Green and Borough Hall stations.

Strecker Memorial Laboratory, New York City
On New York’s Roosevelt Island is a repurposed laboratory. Originally build in 1892 and used to study infectious diseases as part of City Hospital, the laboratory now houses a power-conversion station for trains running below the island.

145 Rue la Fayette, Paris
In Paris is a building that would, by all accounts, be pretty convincing…….if you didn’t know it has no roof. However, if you view it on Google Earth, you can see a black void where there should be a roof. The building is owned by RĂ©gie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP) — the government transportation agency — and is used as an ventilation system for passing trains.