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The Murray Hill Tunnel

3/15/2013 - By Marea Edynak

 

Green light, Go. Wait! Stop! No cars, no bikes, no pedestrians. Are you confused?

It is the exit for the Murray Hill Tunnel right in the center of Park Avenue at 40th Street.

 

Almost 200 years ago in 1834 the beginning of the tunnel was dug out as an as an open railroad cut for use by steam engines and horse drawn trains. In 1852 it was covered over to create a tunnel, making it one of the oldest tunnels in New York City.

 

Then from 1870 to 1934 it was used by electric streetcars. In 1937 it was converted for use by cars.

 

Still used by cars (no buses, bikes or pedestrians) it now goes only one way from 33rd Street in Murray Hill and rises back to street level at 40 Street just in front of Grand Central Station.  There the center lanes of Park Avenue rise onto an elevated structure that goes around the East side of Grand Central Terminal and the MetLife Building (formerly the PanAm Building). South bound traffic goes around the West side.

 

The bridge, one of two structures in Manhattan known as the Park Avenue Viaduct, returns to ground level at 46th Street after traveling directly through the Helmsley Building (also known as the New York Central Building or 230 Park Avenue).

 

It’s worth a ride in a taxi to drop down into the deep tunnel and rise up to circle around some of New York’s greatest buildings.

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