In the movie, Se7en, Detective Mills and Tracy live in an apartment that vibrate when a train comes by.

How realistic is it? I would imagine building quality inspector would have disapproved its construction due to risks to building collapses over time.

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    My house rattles a bit when a helicopter passes over sometimes (I'm near the airport) - and if you've been in the London Underground, you can certainly feel trains passing in nearby tunnels at some stations. The scene in the movie is probably a bit extreme, but not unbelievable.
    – HorusKol
    Commented Aug 13, 2021 at 4:42
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    Some modern buildings near railways in the UK are actually mounted on springs to try alleviate this. Speaking as someone who has lived in two houses 50 metres from the railway, this effect must only be noticeable from closer than that. From here I don't hear or feel a thing.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Aug 13, 2021 at 6:53
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    This used to (maybe still is) be very common in Chicago with “el” (elevated) trains
    – dgo
    Commented Sep 23, 2021 at 4:20
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    Old enough to be a trope: tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DingyTrainsideApartment. Someone has to live next to the tracks... Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 20:35
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    @dgo "How often does the train go by?" youtube.com/watch?v=0lL3PODLf_A
    – Mazura
    Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 20:35

2 Answers 2


Yes, according to dynamisassociates

there’s no doubt that subway-induced vibrations definitely affect the buildings above-ground. What the Dynamis team has discovered over the years of working on projects such as these is that the vertical vibration energy is predominant in subway-induced vibration, since the waves induced by the subway are mostly longitudinal. Therefore, this vertical vibration energy is then ‘transferred’ onto the buildings, causing the buildings to vibrate as well, and this vibration can sometimes exceed the average person’s level of tolerance.


Some years ago I lived in an apartment in The Hague, Netherlands with a tram line running directly underneath it. I can confirm that it used to rattle whenever a tram passed through.

  • But do they have them in New York?
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 14:39
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    @F1Krazy I see what you're driving at, but I felt that even though my answer relates to a different city, it at least demonstrates that this kind of setup is not unusual in cities and that it can, and does, cause the effect that OP was enquiring about.
    – hackl
    Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 14:59
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    New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Y'all never seen The Fugitive?
    – Mazura
    Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 20:33

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