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)