A friend was in the 34th Street BMT/IND station, which connects the R/N/Q lines, the B/D/F/M lines, and the PATH trains to New Jersey, and got this photo of a closed corridor apparently being opened up temporarily for station work.
My initial feeling was that this was the so-called “Gimbels Passageway” that connected 6th and 7th Avenues under 33rd Street and so allowed people coming in from Penn Station to walk underground to the 6th Avenue trains, but it’s not.
It is a closed passageway but it ran lengthwise on 6th Avenue from the 34th Street station north to the 42nd Street station. It was one of a number of subway pedestrian connectors that sometimes offered free transfers, sometimes not. There are lengthy passenger tunnels under 14th Street connecting the 6th, 7th and 8th Avenue lines, but today only the section connecting 6th and 7th Avenues is open. Today, a well-traveled underground walkway lined with shops, plazas and restaurants remains under 6th Avenue between 42nd and 49th Streets.
Maintaining many of the passageways, convenient as they were, became problematic in the 1970s as budget cuts pared subway maintanace down to dangerous levels. The police did not patrol them and they became homeless camps and muggers’ haunts. As Second Avenue Sagas explains, after a rape in March 1991 the 6th Avenue passageway was closed along with several other ones.
However, many of them are still there, if the city ever wants to reopen them and make them safe.
Here’s a video taken in the 6th Avenue passageway: copy and paste into a new window.
Photo: Victoria Metzger