The Top 10 Secrets of Riverside Park in NYC

Secrets of Riverside Park-People in the Park-Manhattan-NYCPhoto via Riverside Park Conservancy

New York City’s Riverside Park spans a number of neighborhoods including Harlem, Morningside Heights and the Upper West Side. Here are the top 10 secrets you might not have known about Riverside Park in New York City, including a murder involving a member of the Beat Generation and the park’s bird sanctuary.

10. There’s a “Freedom Tunnel” Under Riverside Park

Freedom Tunnel-Riverside Park-Amtrak-Urban Exploration-Street Art-Graffiti-Chris Freedom Pape-NYC-001

Just under the surface of Riverside Park is a three mile long train tunnel commonly known as the Freedom Tunnel. The tunnel was designed by Robert Moses in the 1930s to provide more park space above for neighborhood residents. It was used for freight trains from the time it was built until the 1980s, when it was subsequently closed. Following the tunnel’s closure, the homeless sought refuge from the streets inside the vast tunnel, with hundreds of people living underground at its peak in the ’80s and ’90s. Amtrak reopened the tunnel in 1991, and trains still run through there today. Although we don’t recommend any kind of trespassing, do be careful if you go in there.

The tunnel gets its name from its best known graffiti artist, Chris “Freedom” Pape. As Untapped Cities previously reported, Amtrak began painting over much of the art in 2009, including a number of works by Pape. See more photos here.

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One Response
  1. ward roberts Reply

    Amtrak trains running under Riverside Park are hauled by diesel locomotives. NYC passed a law many years ago banning such locomotives that ran on combustible fuels. Amtrak is supposedly a quasi-public corporation but it seems when it is to their advantage, they will use their US government connection to ignore local laws. I am pro Amtrak, pro mass transit as a retired 34 year LIRR employee. Third rail or catenary should be installed from Spuyten Duyvil to Penn Station. LIRR and MNCRR have dual mode locomotives that operate from third rail and diesel. Penn Station’s third rails are not compatible with the MNCRR third rails so catenary would be the better choice.

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