Grand Central, one of Manhattan's busiest transportation portals, sits atop some of the most obscure abandoned subway tunnels in New York City. Urban explorers, graffiti artists, and the homeless have traversed many miles of empty underground train tracks, but the LTV Squad, a group dedicated to documenting unseen infrastructure in NYC, says the trolley loop under Grand Central is one of the least known. Built in the 1890s under the direction of Williams Steinway, the tunnels made only a handful of trips in the early 1900s before Steinway sold the tracks to the city. Part of the tunnels became a section of the 7 line, but a large part has been left abandoned.
The LTV author wrote that he's been eyeing these Grand Central tunnels since the 1980s when he first noticed them while riding the 7 train:
The problem of course was the location. Both 5th avenue and Grand Central are busy stations at all hours of the day and night. Just getting to the loop would be an act of death defiance as well, given that the active tunnel one needs to walk down in order to access the abandoned loop is on a steep hill, with next to no clearance on either side of the track, and fewer places to hide should a train come along. On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the most dangerous in terms of risk of getting caught or killed), I would say this one is a 9.He leaves out the exact details of the journey, but details the experience in the space:Decades of iron filings coat the floor and walls. Indents are surprisingly found along the walls, to allow space for workers to stand as the trolley car would pass. High above the tunnel floor is another safety feature: the remaining 3rd rail supports. The trolley car drew electricity from a third rail suspended from the ceiling. Countless accidental deaths (caused by stepping on the third rail) in the subway tunnels in the century since could have been avoided had this design been widely used in the rest of the system. At the end is a large concrete block. Far above one can see the orange glow of streetlamps filtering through a tall ventilation shaft. There is a ladder down several feet that connects to the rest of the loop connecting back to the Queens bound 7 track.Click through for more details and photos.
· Grand Central Trolley Loop [LTV Squad]