The Other Side of Vegas: A Journey Beneath the Streets
Updated: Monday, November 11 2013, 04:53 PM EST
Las Vegas is a top tourist destination for people across the country. But there's one part of the city that remains invisible to tourists and locals alike.
Mike Koelbel from FOX45's sister station in Salt Lake City Utah took a look at the Vegas Underground. Below the glitz and glamour is this other "darker" city just feet away from iconic welcome sign.
Teacher and author Matt O'Brien has been walking the Vegas drainage tunnels for years and has written a book called "Beneath the Neon." There are hundreds of miles of the tunnels stretching from Vegas to Lake Mead and half of them are underground. It's here where hundreds are living.
One of them, John, came to Vegas from Florida. He's been living in the tunnel for three years.
"I…had a wife and a couple of kids," John said. "I always told them that when they grew up and went off to college I was gonna pack a bag and come to Vegas and three years ago I did."
John's biggest fear in life now is the rare Vegas downpour that can turn the tunnels into a death trap.
Another two residents are Jazz and his girlfriend. Jazz is a longtime resident of the tunnels – once a construction worker he got lost in drug addiction.
"I've been down here since 87," Jazz said. "I've seen it all....I came here when I was 18....I'm 45 now."
The eerie graffiti in the tunnel tells a story of loneliness and desperation.
Matt says getting out of the tunnel is a lot tougher than getting in.
"You do have quite a few people who made it out recently," Matt said. "But to get out on their own, that's a tough, tough task."
But that's not to say they don't leave the tunnels temporarily during the day.
"They come out of the tunnels and sneak into the buffets or panhandle on the street corners or look for money left on slot machines in the casinos," Matt said. "They actually survive off the city."