A World Traveler Spent 5 Years Documenting Secret Underground Worlds. Now He's Sharing What He Saw.

Most world travelers search the world for natural wonders, famous monuments, or authentic cuisine, but not Richard Ross – he is looking for bomb shelters. Ross spent five years documenting the underground world of bomb shelters, in the United States and abroad. But why does he do it?

In his book “Waiting for the End of the World,” Ross said: “Shelters are the architecture of failure– the failure of moderation, politics, communication, diplomacy, and sustaining humanity. They represent the ultimate in optimism and belief in individual survival and paradoxically the ultimate in pessimism– the expectation of the destruction of humanity.” It’s certainly something to ponder as you check out this next group of photos – take a look. 

Here sits Charlie Hull in a shelter he built with church friends in Emigrant, Montana. 

They hoped that the unusual winding design of the front entrance would deflect radiation. 

Hull and his friends stocked the shelter to support 90 people for up to 7 months, but luckily, it was never used. 

This shelter in Livermore, California is much more basic. 

But the circular design guarantees safety through the harshest of circumstances.  

The Dixia Cheng shelter is also known as the “Underground City.” 


It is comprised of a large network of tunnels under Beijing, China. 

Today, the shelter serves as a tourist attraction, with merchants setting up shop along the creepy tunnel walls. 

This public shelter is located in Switzerland, a country where every citizen is required by law to have access to a shelter. 

With so many shelters around, it is no surprise that some of them are quite creative. 

This shelter in St. Petersburg, Russia is now a nightclub, albeit a small one. 

This shelter in Utah is little more than a hole in the ground, but it would be better than nothing if disaster ever strikes. 

As will the Seyfried’s private shelter in Salt Lake City. 

In London, this old shelter has been transformed into a place for city storage. 


The space is now known as the Abbey Data Storage, and holds thousands of boxes. 

It looks like a great place for an afternoon adventure. 

In Essex, England this sign loudly proclaims a “secret” bunker. 

But it is actually designed with public safety in mind. 

Follow these stairs to the Jiaozhuanghu Village in Beijing, China...

And you will find a secret, cavernous room, just waiting to shelter citizens in need. 

To see more, check out Ross’s book, Waiting for the End of the World – it’s a great read for any coffee table. 

Credit: Messy Nessy Chic | Richard Ross

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