Going east from 71st Continental Avenue, the 4 track tunnel contains two ramps heading downward. These lead to a lower level that also spreads out into 4 tracks. These tracks are used to turn any trains terminating at 71st ave, as well as to lay up a few trains. This second lower level continues all the way to Union Turnpike, where the tracks turn northward into Jamaica Yard.
Further east, two more ramps lead back up to the Queens Blvd line tracks, reconnecting just west of Van Wyck blvd station.
That might sound like a lot of subway parking and space never seen by passengers, but history tells a different story: during the 1939 worlds fare, a subway route was built exiting Jamaica Yard and going even further north, up along land that is now the Van Wyck expressway – ending at a temporary 2 track terminal.
There was some thought given to making this route permanent, at a cost of a mere $6 Million dollars – but the Board of Transportation (in charge of such matters at the time) determined it to be a waste of money considering there were no permanent attractions at the park at the time. Today, the neighborhoods nearby this former route are considered ‘transportation deserts’, with only limited bus service and high dependence on cars to get people around.
The tracks beyond the yard were torn up in 1941 – just a few months after the fair closed, but these tunnels still exist today.
July 4, 2005.
This night started random enough. Me, ‘The Chef’ and ‘Sleazy Santa’ ran into each other on the street. Chef had some cash to attend to, so me and sleaze went off to the subway lookin’ for something to do. Nothin’ seemed nice on the GOs, so I suggested and we went to the Jamaica Yard leads.
There were trains laying up left and right. It was way too hot, both in terms of actual heat and activity wise (trains moving around, workers, etc) to venture far into the place. This time though, it was the middle of the night on a holiday weekend. The tracks were packed with trains, with red signals everywhere. Nothing was moving, so we were moving in.
First down to inspect the layups. There were a few of them. Doors unlocked, no lights or ACs. It’s a little creepy when they leave the doors open, as you half expect someone to be in there doing who knows what. We go one emergency exit down and can see and hear trains turn and lay up not too much further down, at 71st/Continental. We head back, taking in the awesome sight of ancient Quik, Min and SE 3 tags. These have survived here since the early and mid 80s.
Finally back where we started, we venture further into the other direction, as the tracks narrow from 4 to 2, and take a severe curve. We pass another exit and keep on going until finally we’re next to a yard. Yards have guards and people working, so we’re not going to touch that, at least not tonight. Just as we start plotting our next move though we hear someone coming.
This is a tight spot, not a lot of room to breathe. We slide under the train just as the workbum comes around the bend perhaps a carlength away. He sees nothing and / or acts as if he heard nothing.
We bolt down a new tunnel that comes down to join these tracks. It’s back as hell, and on the way up we have to hide from a train on the upper level.
After that, everything is cake. We check out another exit, some strange little indent in the tunnel wall, and proceed to the next stop, past more lay ups, dodging and hiding from trains passing in both directions.
We might have come out a bit dirty, but this shit is a job and getting over on the man is always expected.
This post supersedes a post from July 4, 2005 called ‘Quik Spot’ – this newer version contains bigger photos, refined text, etc.