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GES188 - The Freedom Tunnel, NYC

Possibly one of the most well known places to explore in the Big Apple, is the Freedom Tunnel. It was named after a prominent graffiti artist called Chris 'Freedom' Pape, and the tunnel used to be a magnet for artists. It was also somewhere for the homeless to congregate, and many lived down here. The tunnel had fallen into disuse not long after it was built, in the 1930s. However it was put back into service in 1991, and as such the homeless were evicted, and shantytowns bulldozed. Graffiti artists still came to the tunnel, creating large and ever more impressive pieces. In 2009, Amtrak sprayed over all the graffiti, including Freedom's original pieces, that had been left by other artists passing through.

GE011 was looking to go back here, so GE074 and I followed him and GE011's lady friend. After dropping in, we ended up near a station in the Southern end, and quickly left the area to the darker zones further north. The information display screen for the platform's orange glow can be seen in the distance in the pic below, looking South.

From a similar position as the above pic, looking North. The huge steel beams that typify rail transport in the city. GE011 and GE074 lead the way.

The tunnel is well known for it's thick shafts of light that power down from above. I'd first been alerted to them from a fellow explorer's pic from here, Sleepycity, and added it to my mental list. Above the tunnel a park has been created, and the light grills above facilitate the light entering. One could hear voices above, children playing, dogs barking etc. At one point GE074 saw a child pointing down at him, and took a pic. I wanted to capture the light beams running down the tunnel better, but this was the best I could get.

Sometimes the ventilation grills above ran diagonally across the tracks, like this. The tunnel is really long, so it varied over the distance.

The tunnel is 'really' long, around 60 blocks. We were passed by two trains, one we spotted, the other crept up on us. You might think it would be easy to hear innumerable tonnes of steel rolling up in a tunnel, but the trains were surprisingly quiet.

A roll call of taggers running along the lit up sections.

The sorry state of Freedom's original artwork that graced the tunnel. Cheaply painted over. The piece says 'Drop the gun mole', a reference to the people that lived here. The mole people. The giant hand is a newer piece. Between the two is a mostly rubbed out piece that proclaimed 'There is no way like the American way.' The original full mural can be seen here.

Another attempt to try to capture the sunlight down here.

Another popular piece of graffiti down here, visible across the web.

Our presence down here was clearly not welcome, as these signs were interspersed down the tunnel. Mainly they appeared by the fire escape exits, that dotted the tunnel.

Most of the tunnel's fire exits were blocked off with concrete, this one was open to the tunnel, glorious steel beams exposed to the sunlight from the park outside.

More recent graffiti on the walls.

As mentioned above, the tunnel varied along the path, and here large windows let in light.

It wasn't long after that a southbound train trundled through, catching us un-awares. We were close to the Northern exit, and picked up the pace a bit. Our only way of hiding was crouching against the wall, we're pretty sure the driver would have seen us. It wasn't long before we were admiring President Grant's tomb. Thanks to GE011 and Co.