The secret cities beneath our cities. What we leave behind.
This haunting video was shot by Charles le Grand. It’s all video, no stills.
Charles describes the history of the ‘Freedom Tunnel’:
Under Manhattan’s Upper West side, runs the “Freedom” Tunnel. Built in the 30’s by Robert Moses, the passage boasts legendary graffiti murals and piles of debris remaining of the past homeless city era. After using it for only a couple of years, Amtrak discontinued the line and left a massive cavern which later became a shelter for street people. Progressively, the tunnel turned into a veritable underground metropolis where thousands of homeless were living in organized communities underneath the city’s skin.
The tunnel also became a prime spot for graffiti artists. Chris Pape, aka Freedom, was one of the pioneers and his work inspired the name of the tunnel. “Freedom” painted immense murals utilizing the unique lighting provided by the ventilation ducts, turning the tunnel into an extraordinary underground art gallery. Some of his most notable paintings survived for decades and are still conspicuous today (“Venus de Milo”, the “Coca-Cola Mural”, Dali’s “Melting Clock”,a self-portrait featuring a male torso with a spray-can head, etc.).
In 1991, Amtrak decided to reopen the tunnel. The shanty towns were cleared out by the police and homeless were evicted. Although deserted, the tunnel is now an active train line and a stunning experience for urban explorers.