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!