Myrtle Ave MadnessAuthor: Control , Date Posted: 2011-04-23 22:52:41
This platform eventually became popular with graffiti artists in the 1980s, after an artist, Bill Brand, received permission to build the "Masstransiscope" on the platform. This large scale artwork shows what amounts to a flip book animation to any subway riders who happen to look out into the tunnel from passing trains. You can check out a good video of it here.
For a number of years, the lights inside the Masstransiscope were shut off, and the interior was covered in graffiti. However, the MTA recently turned the juice back on, and as you can see in Mr. Brands blog, the artwork was restored.
Curiously, The MTA also sealed up the stairs to the mezzanine with poured concrete - securing the space for other uses.
Myrtle Avenue is one of the harder subway stations to get to for nocturnal clandestine tunnelaholics. Here you have multiple subway lines converging on a single point, creating a very busy segment of tunnel. During the day, trains pass through here on average every 2-3 minutes. Even late at night, there will be a train every 10 minutes.
This doesn't account for 'C division', of course. Late at night is when C division rolls their work trains out of Coney Island yard, funneling up to a half a dozen of these slow moving work trains towards Manhattan. They often stop on the express tracks right outside of the old Myrtle Ave platform, waiting for regular passenger trains to make their way through.
It was under these conditions that one night a long time ago I decided to bring along an artist interested in creating self portraits within decaying, dark places. Looking back, I figured the experience would either scare the heck out of her or make her even more eager to visit such places. her name, of course, is Miru Kim, and as you can see, this trip did not scare her off. The dirt, the danger, even the hasty exit to avoid approaching police didn't stop her from wanting more.
And that's what exploring really is. Some people are immediately turned off by the inherit risks - some might not even consider trying it themselves (which is fine). For others though, it's a rush. An adrenaline shot breaking up a life full of too many routines and not enough chaos inspiring creativity. It's a drug, and if you come down into tunnels like this a few too many times, it becomes almost a way of life. A religion. An obsession. So many layers to peel back, tunnels to walk, nooks and vents and layups to explore... You can spend a lifetime wandering these tunnels if you really wanted to. but at some point, you've got to tear yourself away. And get back to 'reality'. Speaking of which...
The multiple trains, tracks, no clearance zones, 3rd rail, track workers and police all make this a significantly more dangerous than average subway walking adventure - which by default is really not recommended for anyone without proper track safety certification.
No two trips to this location are ever the same. I've spent time down here in complete quite, secure and snug. I've spent time down here waiting for work trains to clear the interlocking, idling away and filling the tunnel with diesel fumes. The only real constant are the trains. Endless numbers of subways rolling through the dark, occasionally stopping for the red ball (light) controlling the switches ahead - switches that determine what route over the bridge and through Manhattan each train will take. Up above on the surface is the flatbush avenue extension, a wide main road funneling car traffic onto the bridge. The surface is filled with a similar line of endless cars, endless activity.
Sneaking through one of the most densely trafficked parts of NYC unseen and unauthorized is something of a remarkable adventure. There's no other subway trip quite like it.