Explorers of the Underground

Explorers of the Underground


I have no idea why I didn’t post this in July when it came out. About a year ago I accompanied a Columbia Journalism student, Brian Eha, on a couple explores as he was writing his master thesis on the subject of Urban Exploring. Usually explorers are pretty tight lipped but since I’m not as active as I used to be I’m more open to talking with others about it. Brian and I explored the Glenwood Power Station in Yonkers and the Freedom Tunnel under Riverside Dr. in Manhattan. I posted the pictures from Glenwood here but the Freedom Tunnel was too dark when we went to get any good shots, though I have posted a couple here. The article is a great read and I was happy to help.


In New York City, when night falls, a number of doors and less obvious passageways open onto another city. One of these is the mouth of the Amtrak tunnel that runs under Manhattan’s Riverside Park. In December 2011, after five months of living full-time in the mundane city, I need a vacation, a respite not so much from the beloved city herself but from what cities increasingly consist of: light, noise, human and automobile traffic, crowded streets and stores and subway cars, trash and blackened gum on the sidewalks, the appalling tons of flotsam that wash up around us. For nearly half a year the only vistas have been vistas of human habitation. And so one cold night I take it upon myself to walk for nearly 60 blocks through the underground waste of the Riverside Tunnel, known colloquially as the Freedom Tunnel after Chris “Freedom” Pape, a graffiti artist whose murals made it famous among a certain subset of the population for whom spending time in dark tunnels is not unusual, and is even considered fun. My companion this night, Andrew Lynch, is one of this number, young and blond like me, but taller and less muscular, lanky with an easy stride. By day he sells real estate on the Upper West Side. By night—not every night, and increasingly fewer nowadays, but some nights even now—he’s an urban explorer.

Read the rest of it at Outside Online.