0 Love It
Save it

What’s under New York: hidden subways, secret places and more

Find out what secret places, hidden treasures and abandoned sights can be found beneath the Meatpacking District, in the New York subway and elsewhere.

 (Photograph: Jonathan Blanc/NYPL)
Photograph: Jonathan Blanc/NYPL

The New York Public Library’s underground vaults

 (Photograph: Nick Carr)
Photograph: Nick Carr

Ridgewood Bowling Alley

Venture underground in NYC and you’re bound to find all sorts of fascinating secret New York tidbits. Check out some of the most interesting things you’ll find under New York, including secret New York subway stations, one of the New York Public Library’s underground vaults and secret tunnels beneath the Meatpacking District.

RECOMMENDED: Full list of secret places in NYC

Fake subway exteriors

If you take a stroll through Brooklyn Heights, be sure to pause in front of 58 Joralemon Street, near Willow Place. It appears to be a normal brownstone, but after a more careful look at the three-story building, you’ll notice blacked-out windows. It’s actually an emergency subway exit and ventilator, situated along the 4 and 5 train tunnels. Peer through the cracks of the front door, and you’ll see what looks like a subway platform. A similar substation exists behind the walls of 108 East 19th Street, near Irving Place; it can be found behind a large set of garage doors.

Abandoned subway stations

The preserved City Hall stop (which can be seen by staying on a downtown 6 train after it passes Brooklyn Bridge–City Hall) may be NYC’s most famous disused train station, but there are plenty of other abandoned platforms to glimpse. There’s one along the 1, 2 and 3 tracks at West 91st Street (you can see it from the front car between the 86th St and 96th St stops), and another at East 18th Street along the 4/ 5/ 6 line (visible between 14th St–Union Sq and 23rd St). These shut down in 1959 and 1948, respectively, because their proximity to other stations had rendered them unnecessary.

Cow tunnels on the West Side

Long before the neighborhood became a tourist trap, the Meatpacking District was the aptly named home of many Manhattan slaughterhouses and packing plants. At the turn of the 20th century, cattle came from New Jersey to the Manhattan docks via barge. To simplify their transport from dock to slaughterhouse, the city built underground cattle tunnels, helping the animals avoid everyday human traffic. The passes are located at 34th Street between Eleventh and Twelfth Avenues, and along 39th Street at Twelfth Avenue; they were rediscovered during an archaeological documentary study conducted for the 7 train extension in 2004.


The New York Public Library’s underground vaults

The iconic book repository is even more voluminous than it seems: Six feet under the soil of Bryant Park is the NYPL’s two-story book vault, connected to the main building by a tunnel. The first level holds research materials, including rare books and manuscripts, available by request in the Reading Room. The second level is still raw, but will open in 2014 and hold research books that were originally bound for New Jersey due to the NYPL’s forthcoming massive renovations.

Crypts in Little Italy

Deep underneath the cemetery and building of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral on Mulberry Street lies a mausoleum for the Catholic residents of Little Italy. Among the notable New Yorkers ensconced in the crypt are the founders of the Emigrant Savings Bank, Dominic Lynch (a ratifier of the Constitution) and the Delmonicos (the family behind the famed restaurant). New residents can be interred at the Old Cathedral, provided they’re related to someone already buried there and there’s room left in the family plot.

Hidden bowling alleys

The owners of a former garment factory in Ridgewood were surprised to discover an unused two-lane bowling alley while cleaning the building’s basement. According to the blog Scouting NY, the owners believe the alley dates back to Prohibition and that the basement was most likely a speakeasy. This isn’t the only set of lanes hidden in New York City: Another bowling alley and a billiards room are located beneath the Frick Collection. They were built following the former mansion’s completion in 1916.




These is a gem of an article.  I love this hidden tourist treasures in New York City. Maybe most of the locals don't know about them either.  Will pass it around and next time I am in the Big Apple, I will take this great spots in.