cow tunnels

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Cow Tunnels Under New York City

The legend of the West Side Cow Tunnels has always been an urban myth, repeated by someone who heard, but never from someone who knew. The story goes that sometime in the 1870s, the need to alleviate cattle traffic in the streets resulted in the creation of an underground ″Cow Tunnel″ underneath 12th Avenue and 34th street.

From here that the stories fluctuate wildly. Everything from where the tunnels are - people put the location of the tunnels on Joralemon Street-  to what exactly the tunnels are made of - Oak, Steel, and field stones are the top candidates.

One of the only published accounts of the tunnel comes from an old article from the Tribeca Tribune circa June 1997, which follows the wild goose chase of a Con Edison employee as he follows the vague leads of his friends who knew a friend who saw the tunnels. In the end, the myth of the West Side Cow Tunnels seemed to be just another urban fancy.

That is, until 2004, when hints of the legendary Cow Tunnels resurfaced. A correspondence from the NYC landmarks preservation commission and New York State office of parks, recreation, and historic preservation mentioned underground ″Cattle Tunnels″ at the 34th street and 38th street. According to the correspondence, if the tunnels are still in good shape they may qualify for inclusion in the National Register for Historic Places.