Abandoned Park Ave Trolley Station

March 18th, 2006 by

Speed upon entering tunnel: 65mph
Duration: 5 minutes
Number of photos taken: 38
Video Footage: 42 seconds

This was quite frankly the coolest short duration exploration I've made in a long time. It was a surgical strike of urban guerrilla historianism pulled off with the lightening speed and energy that one would come to expect of any of NYC's more capable explorers.

The target of this operation was the abandoned 38th street trolley station located in the no name auto tunnel south of Grand Central Station under Park Avenue. Originally constructed as an extension of railroad service south of grand central in the 1850s, the tracks and tunnel eventually came to be used for trolley service which used the station between in 1870 and 1935. The original trolley cars were pulled by horses, with electrical trolleys later added at the turn of the century. In 1935, the tunnel was closed for two years and converted for automobile use. The station stairs to the surface were retained as an emergency exit for this auto tunnel.

Today, the station/stairs lays dormant and isolated. There is no pedestrian access to this location (except via the locked hatch on the street surface), thus making this mission mildly difficult to pull off. Just like sex with your mom though, timing really is everything, and dedication to the trade will always get the job done.

Ntwrkguy was behind the wheel (the brand new just off the showroom floor wheels, I should add) for this mission, playing the key role in it's success. Without wheels and a capable savvy driver, there is no way to pull off this mission. I suppose you could run into the tunnel on foot, but traffic moves very fast here, and there is little space to be out of harms way. As one of few stretches of road through midtown that is devoid of red lights and pedestrians, the tunnel and associated road viaduct that wraps around the Grand Central Terminal building are something of a speedway for motorists. Traffic here is a constant, even at the midnight hour. With good timing and maneuvering though we manage to enter the tunnel without any cars behind us. I hop out and he takes off, with the plan to be picked up in 5 minutes - just enough time to document the spot and to escape should there be any motion sensor or security system (none of which was found here).

I ran up the stairs to scope out the entire location. Unfortunately, the catwalk above the roadway is the only accessible 'hidden' section to this station. Directly in the middle of this catwalk is a short few steps leading to the hatch which opens into the median of park avenue. Appropriately, next to this exit is a small locked room labeled 'control room'.

The door was stainless steel, and the lighting around this area appeared modern and recently improved - however, the thick coating of dirt on the stairs told another story. Each step left a footprint in this half in thick soot, which also coated the walls. With no other footprints present, it was like walking on the moon for the first time. Clearly, the last time someone was at this spot on foot was quite some time ago.

To sum up this trip in one word, I would have to say 'exciting'. The constant rush of cars created an energized sensation, and the shortness in duration made little room for error. Just as I began to videotape I could hear the car horn echoing through the tunnel, signaling that it was time to leave, and with a cab coming up fast from behind, there was no time for long goodbyes, just the laughter of having pulled this off in such a constrained time frame under pressing conditions.

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  • About The Author

    Bad Guy Joe

    Bad Guy Joe
    Bad Guy Joe knows more about the NYC underground than anyone else on or below the surface of this planet. He has spent nearly 30 years sneaking into NYC's more forbidden locations. When not underground, he's probably bitching about politicians or building something digital. 
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