Basement stairs lead to the original ground level in Rome, Georgia.
Caption
Basement stairs lead to the original ground level in Rome, Georgia.

A flood devastated Rome, Georgia in 1886. According to local lore the waters rose high enough for a steamboat to float down Broad Street, the town’s main thoroughfare. This event inspired city leaders to elevate the street, and all the buildings along it. Business owners recently opened up their basement doors for people to tour the remains of old Rome. We took the tour, and brought back this audio postcard. Impressive engineering and spooky history of Rome underground.

City planners of 1886 reportedly raised Broad Street for about $3,000. “They couldn’t afford to build a levy. So what could they afford to do? Well, they raised the street,” said architect and volunteer tour guide Mark Cochran. 

Romans boat down Broad Street in the late 19th century.
Caption
Romans boat down Broad Street in the late 19th century.
Rob Brenson gives a tour of Underground Rome
Caption
Rob Brenson gives a tour of Underground Rome
The shaft of an old elevator in Rome, Georgia.
Caption
The shaft of an old elevator in Rome, Georgia.
An elevator for moving cotton.
Caption
An elevator for moving cotton.
Above ground on Broad Street, with a view of the DeSoto Theatre.
Caption
Above ground on Broad Street, with a view of the DeSoto Theatre.
Early air conditioning system in the basement of the DeSoto Theatre in Rome.
Caption
Early air conditioning system in the basement of the DeSoto Theatre in Rome.
Tour-goers explore Rome underground.
Caption
Tour-goers explore Rome underground.
Looking up an old elevator shaft that may have been used by Rome's 19th century undertaker.
Caption
Looking up an old elevator shaft that may have been used by Rome's 19th century undertaker.