Cow Tunnels in Manhattan ? Do they exist?

You may not know that there are over 2000 bridges and tunnels in NYC. You are more  likely to know the names of a few of them –  Lincoln, Holland, Midtown and the Brooklyn Battery to mention a few.

However, did you know  there is a tunnel for cows?

As the railroads massively increased cattle traffic to Manhattan, the Pennsylvania Railroad built holding pens in New Jersey, whence barges would ferry cattle across the Hudson to slaughterhouses along Twelfth Avenue and Thirty-fourth Street. Traffic was so heavy in the 1870s that a “Cow Tunnel” was built beneath Twelfth Avenue to serve as an underground passage, and it’s rumored to be there still, awaiting designation as a landmark site. Historian Betty Fussel

Is there a long forgotten tunnel that was built to transport cattle  in Manhattan?

 

This  is the story of a lost, forgotten, or perhaps just a mythical subterranean cattle infrastructure.  This  underground tunnel was supposedly built at the end of the nineteenth century: an infrastructural response to the cow-jams that had begun to block streets in the Meatpacking District of Manhattan.

 

Cowboy on 13th Street and 11th Avenue in the Meatpacking District circa 1911, George Grantham Bain Collection, via Shorpy.com Note: The very existence of a cow tunnel (or tunnels) is mostly of stories and rumor, varying as to its/their location.
Where are they?

The tunnels might be beneath Twelfth Avenue, either at 34th Street or 38th Street—or perhaps both—but it also might be somewhere on Greenwich, Renwick, or Harrison Streets, near the present-day entrance to the Holland Tunnel. All west side along the Hudson river) It could even be as far afield as Gansevoort Street in the West Village.

I found a reference  to the cow tunnel  written by  Brian Wiprud, who speculates that the tunnel is, possibly oak-vaulted; lined with fieldstones; built of steel and most likely  demolished  to make way for a gas mains or it might be perfectly preserved.

There is a story, “Bum Steer,”  dated June 1997 from the Tribeca Tribune  and available online. It is a poorly photocopied set of PDF. If you go to this site look for “Bum Steer” listing)

One story about the tunnel comes from a laborer who when working in a trench came across a wall of wood He tore it open and went in and came out  saying it was an oak-vaulted tunnel ten feet wide by eight feet high that trailed off in both directions.

Another story has an old man from the neighborhood who looked at  the trench and said, “Why, I see you found the cattle tunnel.”

Since then, a slightly more authoritative source confidently reported the location of two cow tunnels underneath Twelfth Avenue, one at West 34th Street and one at West 39th:

There was a dock at the foot of West 34th Street in the 1870s, and cattle were brought to their slaughterhouse between Eleventh and Twelfth Avenues beneath the streets via a cow tunnel. Sometime between 1928 and 1930 a two-story concrete cattle pen was built at the southeastern intersection of West 39th Street and Twelfth Avenue. Another underground cattle pass was built from the shoreline to this pen to allow cows to be driven under, instead of across, Twelfth Avenue.

A side note

The only one other comparable cow tunnel has been found in the United States: a “barrel-vaulted brick tunnel,” constructed to connect stockyards in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

However it turns out that the initial research of cow tunnels reports on the construction of a cow-tunnel at West 38th Street.  In addition, an extant tunnel was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1932 to allow cows to be driven under instead of across Twelfth Avenue, at West 38th Street. But there the trail ends: “No archaeology has been done there,” 

Conclusion(s)

In other words, no one knows whether West 38th Street cow tunnel is still down there, intact — an abandoned, inaccessible cylindrical void amidst the tangle of utilities, foundations, and sewage pipes beneath our streets.

People might have just invented this crazy story about cow tunnels because everybody loves a good, vaguely plausible urban myth.

Until they are found, I will side with the group that thinks we have yet to find them.

I think that this is a good place to start our search

However, it is for you to decide

Is There a Secret Cow Tunnel Under 12th Avenue?

NYC – New York really is ‘the naked city’.

The First bodypainting Day in NYC

 (AP Photo/John Minchillo
(AP Photo/John Minchillo

This article has pictures of nudes. Hopefully, I have used good judgement in editing the photographs. 

The essay is simply to show you an event that took place only in New York City.  Public nudity is legal in the  city if it’s part of a performance, exhibition or show.

  Artists in Manhattan painted the bodies of 40 nude models on Saturday,IMG_5332_edited-1 turning the Columbus Circle entrance to Central Park into an outdoor celebration of the human form – first ever New York City body painting day and is the .only city in the country that would allow a  Bodypainting Day. Since 1988 this planet has been graced by an annual event that sits somewhere between beautiful and bizarre, it’s the World Bodypainting Festival. From 47 countries all over the world, people flock to the beautiful lakeside town of Pörtschach in Austria to compete, spectate and appreciate the kaleidoscopic array of incredibly intricate patterns and designs painted across hundreds of bodies.

IMG_5316_edited-1

 

 

 

 

(For Art buffs) – Body painting, or sometimes bodypainting, is a form of body art.  Unlike tattoo and other forms of body art, body painting is temporary, painted onto the human skin, and lasts for only several hours. (in the case of a “henna tattoo”) a couple of weeks. Body painting that is limited to the face is known as face painting.  Body painting is also referred to as (a form of) “temporary tattoo”; large-scale or full-body painting is more commonly referred to as body painting, while smaller or more detailed work is generally referred to as temporary tattoos.

(Except for lead photo, all other photos are mine)

 

 

 Click each photo to enlarge

 

Remember that when you take a walk… something always catches your eye.

NYC – Posters – Is all art in a museum? Not on the upper west side!

 Indoor Poster Collages

ticket officeNew York City has an amazing amount of art housed in many prestigious museums. However, there is a parking garage on west 65th Street and CPW that has a very unique collection of posters. A rather odd place for art but it works quite well. I wonder how many other buildings in NYC have similar displays that go unnoticed?

 

entrance w65th

 

I am not sure these are all classic posters nor did I recognize the origins of each. When entering the garage you are surprised to find several large collages.(posters).(click to enlarge)

entrance w65th_wallentrance_w65_side

entrance w66th_1

entrance w66_3

Here are a few of the posters from within the collages. They seem to represent a wide range of interests. As I write this I am wondering if the nearby Lincoln Center had some influence on displaying the posters.

uncle sam

james bam leglincoln center   phanthom IMG_4498_CYRK                 man in bed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, it is not the Met or he Guggenheim but it is another free place to visit in NYC   You may notice a few well-known names and enjoy their poster art work.

 

 

Here is a collage of some old posters

 

Note: This garage is opposite the Tavern on the Green – newly reopened ????   At this writing it does not have a public bathroom but is working on it. Ask for directions to the nearest bathroom) It is only a short walk into the park (from the Tavern) to a public rest room.

Also, the garage is close to Columbus Square, New York Historical Society and a short walk from Lincoln Center. It may worth a peek into?

 

NYC – UnFair Art Show

THE(UN)FAIR was an alternative to the Armory Art Fair and just a block away. I think its goal was to show the public that Art can be shown and appreciated in a less formal setting than  cookie-cutter fairs.

UnFair Art Show_band_w52nd (57)

Housed in an older building _  three floors up _  the walls, floors and ceilings  held over 100 works of art. The exhibition space was set in a very grungy but inviting loft.  Several rooms had  related objects and made for an interesting and enjoyable visit. The people involved in the show were very friendly and eager to explain each of the pieces of art.

The UnFAir celebrates amazing art by a handful of prestigious artists… the environment is immersive, the work is installed with connectivity between the artists, and the particularities of the hauntingly beautiful space itself are highlighted through an innovative lighting installation.

 

I created a slide show for each room. Not all pieces are included.

Room I

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Room 2

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Room 3

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Room 4

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Most of the area around this loft (west 52nd and 10th Avenue) is mostly commercial. Most people simply walk through the area to get to the Hudson River.

NYC – Upper West Side Mini Page- Above 86th Street

Around this time of the year many people visit this area. Mostly, to go to services at The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine.  The Cathedral is most impressive! The Riverside Church, just east of St John’s, is smaller but still worth the visit. Around 105th and riverside Drive is the NYC Buddhist Church no more than a hall but they always have interesting programs  and to see the statue outside is worth the walk. The Nicholas Roerich Museum is a small museum in a brownstone . It is on west 107th st near riverside drive. It is unique and near the NYC Buddhist Church. www.roerich.org/