Thursday, April 15, 2010

Manhattan's Underground Cow Tunnels (of Death)

(Above: Art by Kaisu Koivisto)

More evidence of New York's vast underground world has recently come to light! According to experts, numerous tunnels were constructed here in the 19th century after the city made it illegal to herd cattle through the streets. The underground passages made it possible for cows to be driven from farms north of the city to slaughter houses in lower Manhattan without blocking street traffic.

Over time, the tunnels fell out of use, but GUESS WHAT! They may still be there!

The website Gothamist quotes an article written by author Brian Wiprud in 1997. Wiprud describes:

. . . watching a crew install a drainage basin on Greenwich Street when they came upon a wall of wood about ten feet down. A laborer went into the hole with a torch and came out saying it was an oak-vaulted tunnel ten feet wide by eight feet high that trailed off an undetermined distance in either direction. It was then that an old man from the neighborhood stepped up to the trench and said, 'Why, I see you found the cattle tunnel.'

So where are the tunnels? Gothamist thinks it's discovered the location of two of them.

[An official] document lists two historical underground cattle passages from the 1870s that are listed as still being in existence, one at West 34th Street and another at West 38th Street, both along 12th Avenue.

Awesome! Now let's go find them!


Blogger kathleen said...

yay! more tunnels!!!

5:49 PM  
Blogger Al Fonzo said...

Let's see.... Need to get Plane Tickets to NYC, gather the other Irregulars, and get rat poison, a flashlight, and black clothing.

6:09 PM  
Blogger The Golden Eagle said...

OOOH. Cow tunnels, here I come!!

6:23 PM  
Blogger MorethanMe said...

i shall find the tunnels and get 5 girl scouts to accompany me! foreward!

6:31 PM  
Blogger band geek said...

Join me! lets all go 2 nyc and find these tunnels!!!

8:56 PM  
Blogger evenescence2196 said...

YAY!!!!! more than me: IM A FORMER GIRL SCOUT!!

9:09 PM  
Blogger Kitty said...

Moooooo!!!! X3

10:07 PM  
Blogger Julia Branches said...

How cool! It is so perfect. I am super depressed that I am not in NYC

11:01 PM  
Blogger montana irregulars said...

Oh I wish I lived in NYC!!!! Montana is the most boring state EVER!!!!

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Toodles*** said...


6:35 AM  
Anonymous Dave said...

Where there are or have been cows, there's... well, just be sure to include good rubber boots in your gear.

However, after more than a century, it's probably dry by now.

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check out an old tunnel between Broadway Alley (on 27th street between 3rd Ave &Lexington Ave) and Union Square. It was used for quickly bringing horse drawn trolleys back downtown during 19th century rush hours. There used to be a ramp down to it, but all is now hidden... Ane adventurous detectives out there?

4:26 AM  
Blogger Kirsten Miller said...

Wow, that's the best tip I've gotten in ages! I'm lacing up my sneakers right now . . .

Thank you!!

11:29 AM  

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