In Fritz Lang's Metropolis, the underground city of 2027 is portrayed as a domain where the underclass works under oppressive and alienating conditions. It isn't even clear what they are producing; all we know is that the workers spend their days toiling on huge machines.
What is the underground city like today? Toronto is home to one of the world's largest underground cities, with some 27 kilometers of underground pathways located beneath the city centre. Unlike in Lang's film, however, the so-called PATH system is not a world of consumption rather than production. Beneath the towers of the metropolis are shops, food courts, and entertainment. Rather than a space of industrial regimentation, it is a space designed to maximize consumption by preventing people from finding routes back to the world above ground.
As reported in the Star, the City of Toronto has tried repeatedly to establish a system of signage that would allow PATH pedestrians to find their way from place to place, even when they don't have the benefit of seeing the exterior cityscape. But planners have only been partially successful. In the end, the PATH system may be less like a system of streets and more like a casino, where clues about one's location in space and time are reduced to a minimum, and people are encouraged to think only about what is right in front of them.