Freedom Tunnel

While some of New York City’s more spacious boroughs, such as Queens and The Bronx, boast a long list of abandoned locations, many New Yorkers may not know that the bustling borough of Manhattan has a few inactive spots itself. From graffiti-filled tunnels to cultural hubs to historic theaters, there are many areas throughout Manhattan that are abandoned and ready for you to discover. While some edifices are partially demolished and others have the potential and support to be redeveloped, several today simply lay forgotten in the heart of Manhattan. Keep an eye out as you walk the Manhattan streets or ride the subway for one of the 10 abandoned spots on this list.

1. The Freedom Tunnel

The Freedom Tunnel
While traversing Freedom Tunnel, you will discover art installation after art installation. Courtesy of Aaron Asis.

Located underneath Riverside Park on the Upper West Side, the Freedom Tunnel is one of the city’s most frequented off-limits transportation spots. According to photographer Will Ellis’ book Abandoned NYC, the Freedom Tunnel was first constructed as part of Robert Moses‘ Westside Improvement Project to address the problem of “Death Avenue,” a ground-level railroad track responsible for the deaths of several pedestrians. However, once the tunnel was completed, the rise of trucking made the track largely obsolete.

Many homeless people discovered the abandoned area by the mid-1970s, and hundreds resided there through the 1980s. However, in the 1990s, Amtrak began laying new tracks, and many squatting there were forcibly removed by the New York Police Department in 1996. Today, the tunnels are remarkably clean, with the only signs of life from the graffiti on the walls. The graffiti of artist Chris Pape, nicknamed “Freedom” is the namesake for the tunnel. His graffiti recreated the works of Goya and Michelangelo and has remained on the walls for several decades before Amtrak began to paint over it in 2009.