Growing up in 70s/80s NYC, I always loved coming home from Coney Island. I’d be up at the front of the train (usually some graffiti covered R-30 or R-40 cars) eagerly awaiting the approach to the Manhattan bridge where I could stare out at the dark mystery world known as Myrtle Avenue.
Opened on June 22, 1915, the Myrtle avenue station in downtown Brooklyn consisted of 2 side platforms, served only by local trains. It was closed in 1956 when the southbound platform was removed to make way for a track reconfiguration that would allow for a better flow of trains through the complex junction running through this tunnel that allows for directing of trains onto either side of the Manhattan Bridge.
The northbound platform was simply closed and abandoned.
In 1980 the “Masstransiscope” art installation was installed on the platform. The original was eventually destroyed by graffiti, though it was recreated in 2008 (and again after another graffiti attack in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy)
I respond to maybe 5% of the emails I receive. Miru’s email was amongst that 5%.
There was just something mysterious about a girl emailing out of the blue describing wanting to do an art project set in forbidden places. Some of us explorers had a mental model back that – that if someone seemed eager enough, they’re going to do it anyway. You may as well get to know them and make sure they know the ropes.
Thus we met up for the first time on this night, and went directly into this subway tunnel. It would be my first time visiting this station in person. For whatever reason I always found the entrance routes to this station to be too busy for my taste, and I neglected to go while it was nice and easy when trains weren’t running on the bridge. It was time to fix that.
Upon arrival we ducked into the stairs next to the dark, wrecked Masstransiscope.
What was up here? Something I wondered since childhood was about to be answered.
Above the mezzanine, a second set of stairs lead up to an entrance embedded in the front of a building. The entrance was sealed up with a solid cinderblock wall.
This was a lot of quiet space – and safely away from the tracks too. We agreed that this was a perfect spot for Miru to get her art going. Plenty of space to set up a tripod…
While she did her thing, I poked around the mezzanine checking out all of the graffiti. There were a lot of tags, but most of them didn’t seem to date back past the late 1980s.
We retraced our steps back to the platform we came in on, only to find it workers nearby. We crossed to the opposite side, and I scouted ahead to the edge of the station, only to find a cop walking directly towards our position.
I quickly get back to Miru and … shit. Now there’s a god damned train coming. We squeeze behind a large signal box and let it pass. The train didn’t honk, so I’m doubting the operator saw us. Nevertheless, this place is too damn hot now. Workers and cops blocking routes of egress? Fuck This Shit.
We head back deeper into the tunnel, and make our escape.
Throughout the final tense moments of this adventure, Miru was as calm as an old pro. If this were a trial by fire, I knew she’d be plenty successful with her work…
I went back here in 2010, and found that the entire mezzanine was destroyed. It seems that a new building was built on top of this entrance, and a thick concrete wall was installed at the entrance from the platform.
As much as I’d have loved to see this mezzanine again, I’m glad I at least got to see it once.