Under the City, There Lives a Man Named John Travolta


Once upon a time in the city of New York there lived a man named John Travolta. He was originally from the Dominican Republic, but for twenty years he made his home in subway tunnels beneath Manhattan. “The trains are a beautiful, sweet sound in my morning,” John Travolta told the Post when they came to see him. The floor of Travolta’s home, the paper noted, consists of “baseball-size chunks of railway gravel, packed earth and — strangely enough — thousands of old shoes.” The paper called him a “mole man,” although really he was just a homeless man who lived underground and didn’t bear any relation to the rodents that scuttered by him. The paper was disturbed by these rodents. They were also disturbed by the “dank tunnels, miles of garbage-strewn train tracks and rumbling trains that shatter the crypt-like silence.”

For his part, Travolta’s only worry was the raccoon that had been annoying him and his friend, Jorge. Jorge and Travolta did not want to go live upstairs in a homeless shelter, because, they said, the shelters were “inhabited by animals and crazy people.” Wasn’t he crazy? “Sure I’m crazy,” says Travolta. But you’d have to be really crazy to want to live outside, where, among the shiny buildings and fancy restaurants and pretty faces, things are much rougher. “Outside, people throw things at me or try to hurt me,” Travolta explained. “Here, I’m left alone …This is where I find my peace and privacy.”