Photo by LTV Squad

The tunnels underneath Williamsburg, the FDR Tunnel... there are a few abandoned subway tubes underneath the city, and the LTV Squad recently visited one: the old "Steinway Tunnels," and more specifically the abandoned "loop" under Grand Central Terminal. They tell us it is a "virtually unknown abandoned trolley tunnel under Grand Central. Very few modern photos of it exist." Here's a little history:

"William Steinway (owner of the piano company which still exists in Astoria, Queens) became a backer of the project, with excavation finally begun in the spring of 1892. This initial tunnel boring attempted was prone to flooding (which is of little surprise, being the fist sub-aquatic subway tunnel in the city). An accidental explosion occurred on Dec. 28, 1892, killing 5 workmen. This combined with a financial panic in 1893 brought the project to a standstill.

After this false start, and the death of William Steinway, August Belmont came to own the company & tunnel project... Belmont’s team got the ‘Steinway tube’ project back underway and completed as a trolley car line. The city government wasn’t pleased about this, since the enterprise was entirely privately run. Belmont was never granted a franchise to operate this new trolley line... Belmont sold the tunnels to the city, it was decided to convert them to rapid transit tunnels matching the specifications of the IRT line. The rapid transit cars of course could not fit around the tight turns of the original tunnel loop tracks and the tunnel was expanded in both directions... On the west end, deep below Grand Central, the loop track was merely bifurcated by the new (present day) tracks towards Times Square. One segment of the loop was re-purposed as a pump room, while a larger section was left abandoned."

And here's an old diagram showing where the still abandoned loop is today:


We've contacted the MTA to see if there are any plans for the abandoned section and will update if we hear back. In the meantime, head over here for more photos and history, and stay tuned for even more photos from a recent tour we got to take, showing off the inner workings of Grand Central.