-- Luv Tunnel 2: The Cows Come Home? | LTV Squad

Luv Tunnel 2: The Cows Come Home?

Published on: April 15th, 2010 | Last updated: December 16, 2015 Written by:

Yesterday’s fuss about the west side ‘Cow Tunnel’ really got me wondering if perhaps the ‘Luv Tunnel’ was known by another name decades ago. Afterall, They are located not far from each other and urban legends, particularly concerning the NYC underground, are often wildly exaggerated. Stories about hidden abandoned subway stations still with pianos in them, CHUDs, etc are sadly pervasive.  Thus it’s not much of a stretch to assume that rumors of a possible tunnel built at 34th street could actually be an actual, existing tunnel at 41st.

Before we go further, if you haven’t already, check out the original post on this topic over at Edible Geography. It’s a most interesting read…

The Luv tunnel has always been a bit of a mystery to me. It’s a short tunnel that dead ends at a solid concrete wall. According to some older graffiti artists/explorers, this tunnel once dead ended at the Hudson river. I never got around to doing homework on it until now (10 years after discovery of it)

There are very few references to what function this tunnel previously held online. Approximately located below W41st street, ‘the luv tunnel’  served 2 functions:

1) As a wye (used to turn railroad cars and engines around – sort of like making a 3 point Uturn, only on tracks), and
2) To service stock yards previous located above these tracks.

My only current reference for this second part is this obscure web page – with the relevant quote:  “At 41st Street there was a wye as well as a stub track to several slaughter houses”.

This is however backed up by the location of a stock yard and slaughter houses on this old 1920s map.

As you can see, there was a rail line (denoted by the solid line with the slashes through it) running up the south side of W41st street to service the stock yards (where one can assume cows were delivered for the slaughterhouses). When these tracks were later placed below grade, my theory is a basement level loading dock was built to connect to the tunnel. It’s not very far fetched when you consider how many businesses modified their buildings to receive rail service from the (then new) High Line.

Underground tunnel + Slaughterhouses = “Cow Tunnel” ?

If you have a better theory and more information, please step forward with it in the comments. I’ll gladly update this & give cred where it’s due.

Until then, enjoy these modern day photos of the Luv (maybe Cow) Tunnel.

Junction of the ‘Wye’.

One of 2 Wye tracks, facing south (and yes, it’s Utah’s world, we just visit it)

End of the line facing 12th ave. Miru Kim & Ben Gibberd are the mysterious characters in the background – we were down there for his excellent NY Times story.

(Hey since I’m so plug-happy today, how about that Utah plug one more time? Utah, Bitches!)

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5 responses to “Luv Tunnel 2: The Cows Come Home?”

  1. Your mother says:

    Seems to me a good source of information would be to hunt old aerial photography of the city. Lots of old b&w images, public library likely has some. If you can narrow down the window of construction there’s probably old microfiche of newspapers with articles about it at the library as well.

  2. Control says:

    Indeed, it’s just a matter of actually getting over to the library to take a look sometime.

  3. Mike says:

    This story really got me… and I did a quick search. Did you see this?

    http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=8314&page=6

    Someone posted a picture that is dead on topic:

    http://digital.nypl.org/mmpco/searchresultsK.cfm?&trg=2&image_id=805512&title=The%20Manhattan%20abattoir.&strucID=577821&dstart=1&NUM=0&keyword=manhattan%20abattoir

    The upper right corner has a frame titled “Tunnel From Dock”.

    From reading the basic google stuff… IMO… there are two different tunnels. Now… can you find the other one… the wood lined one a few blocks away?

    One other thing… did you check out reference 22 here?

    http://books.google.com/books?id=ew06iEKr63AC&pg=PA351&lpg=PA351&dq=%22cow+tunnel%22+New+York&source=bl&ots=bZTHdp-ceH&sig=ch1LQ9QdOcaX7jO6DV4lyku-s3Y&hl=en&ei=8V3KS5nYHpKi9QTQkPjGBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=26&ved=0CEsQ6AEwGQ#v=onepage&q=%22cow%20tunnel%22%20New%20York&f=false

  4. Control says:

    Wow, I have not seen any of those. Definitely sounds like two different tunnels completely. I’d be surprised if there’s any trace of these tunnels where cattle were walked through but you never know. I hope to root around some more in the coming days/weeks. I might credit and see what i can add to your findings and make a post out of that, and hopefully keep the informational ball rolling…

  5. Gary says:

    I had heard there was a tunnel from the docks to the slaughter house under 12th Avenue. There is video taken from the cab of an Amtrak locomotive down the west side and into Penn Station. The High Line was south of the yard at 34th. Above that yard the trains were all below ground. In the video, a reference was made to the tunnel at 41st street And its location. All though the video is clear, it was shot in 1994 on video tape and it shows all that is lacking with video tape, so it is hard to make out where the tunnel is. I had always heard though that it was a cattle only tunnel.

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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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