brick Rotherhithe Engine House, now listed as an ancient monument, was designed by Marc Brunel for the steam-driven pumps. Because there was no money left for road ramps, the Thames Tunnel, while designed for horse-drawn traffic, was originally used as a pedestrian thoroughfare. The only means of access were stairways down, the 80-foot-diameter (25-meter) shafts that had been dug on each side of the river to lower the tunneling shield. A newspaper of 1830 offered visitors an adventure: “The Public may view the tunnel every day, from seven in the morning until eight in the evening, upon payment of one shilling for each person,” adding that the tunnel was “lighted with gas, [was] dry and warm, and the descent [was] by a safe and easy staircase,” Other sources tell a different story, asserting that the 70-foot-deep (21-meter) access stairs and the “dark and dank conditions” soon made it unpopular.

In 1865 it was bought by the East London Railway, and by December 1869 rail tracks were laid to link Wapping to the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway at New Gross Gate. The oldest section of the London Underground system, it was first used by the East London Line in 1884. In May 1996 Taylor Woodrow Construction commenced refurbishment, building new fiber-reinforced, sprayed concrete linings in its twin bores. The work was completed in spring 1997. Heritage conservation laws required four of the cross passages and part of the tiled finish of the main bores to be preserved.

See also

Channel Tunnel

Further reading

Falk, Nicholas. 1975. Brunel’s Tunnel and Where It Led. London: Brunel Exhibition Project.

Lampe, David. 1963. The Tunnel: The Story of the World’s First Tunnel under a Navigable River Dug beneath the Thames, 1824–42. London: Harrap.

Theater of the Asklepieion

Epidaurus, Greece

Every modem visitor to the fourth-century-b.c. Theater of the Asklepieion at Epidaurus marvels at its remarkable acoustics. The tearing of a slip of paper, a whisper, or the sound made by a struck match in the orchestra can be heard with perfect clarity everywhere in the theater, even at the very top, 250 feet (80 meters) distant. The theater epitomizes the skill of the ancient Greeks in the creation of a building type. That fact was already recognized in antiquity, when the traveler Pausanias praised its symmetry and beauty. The building is generally attributed to Polykleitos the Younger, and features of the design suggest an original date of around 300 b.c.

For about eight centuries the Asklepieion was the preeminent healing center of the classical world. The cult of the god Asklepieos was active in the region as early as the sixth century b.c., and such was its success that the original sanctuary of Apollo Maleatas became too small for public worship. The fame of the place led to financial prosperity. In the fourth and third centuries b.c. an ambitious program to create monumental religious buildings was implemented: first the temple and altar of Asklepieos, the tholos, and the abaton, and a little later the Hestiatoreion, the baths, the palaestra, and the theater.

The theater, whose overall diameter was 387 feet (118 meters), was built in two stages: the orchestra, the lower section of seating, and the stage building (skene, from which our word “scenery” comes) were constructed first. Originally, the actors worked from the orchestra, with a thymeli at its center where the leader of the chorus stood. It was a full circle of 67 feet (20 meters) diameter that was not changed in the extension nor during later restorations. Acoustical problems in earlier Greek theaters were reduced when the actors moved from the orchestra to a raised stage, placing them in direct line of sight and sound with the audience. By the time the Theater of the Asklepieion was completed, the actors’ masks, said to have been introduced in the mid-sixth, century b.c., had become quite large: evidence suggests that the trumpet design of mouth openings helped to better direct their voices. However, the excellent audibility to an audience seated around three-fifths of a circular orchestra, in the open air, was reached by the ancient builders largely by means of the architecture alone.

The seating area (theatron or koilon) for 6,200 spectators comprised twelve tiers of thirty-four rows of broad limestone benches divided by stairways. The