When NYC’s Park Avenue Tunnel Was For Trains and Trolleys

park_avenue_tunnel-manhattan-1899-nyc-untapped_citiesPhoto taken circa 1899 by someone unknown

Today the Park Avenue Tunnel, running between 33rd and 40th Streets is a passage for cars, but before it was a roadway for motor vehicles, it was a train and trolley tunnel. Constructed in 1834, it was originally built for the New York & Harlem Railroad (NY&H) as an open cut, which ran steam engines as well as horsecars. In the 1850s, the open cut was bridged creating a tunnel to boost public safety by removing the train from Manhattan’s surface. The Park Avenue Tunnel became of the city’s oldest, accommodating trolley trucks and two-way traffic. 

John Landers, and Untapped Cities reader, shared with us a rare photo of when it was still a train/trolley tunnel. What makes the photo more mysterious is that it is not recent. Landers explained that “this photo was taken by someone unknown circa 1899.” Passengers could board and detrain at this “flag” (by request) stop, while the staircases shown on the sides of the photo led customers to 37th Street and 4th Avenue.

Known also as the Murray Hill Tunnel, today it serves only northbound vehicular traffic while the tram tracks have long since been removed. “The stairs are still there but boarded up but are still discernible from your car window as you drive through the tunnel,” says Landers. 

Next, check out 20 of NYC’s Abandoned Subway Stations, Levels and Platforms

 Park Avenue Tunnel

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