Friday, December 6, 2013

A WALK ALONG THE “CRACK TRACKS” - THE BRONX NEW YORK’S OLD PORT MORRIS BRANCH INCLUDING THE ST. MARY’S TUNNEL

A track/tunnel walk through The Bronx. We start directly beneath the Bruckner Boulevard overpass and followed the abandoned Old Port Morris Branch train tracks almost directly north, passing immediately under Southern Boulevard.


























A “Derail” sign. The train line used to connect to what is now The CSX Oak Point Yard.




























The old Ward’s Bread factory smoke stack. The stack has since been torn down. The photo is also before the line became mostly flooded.















A detail of the graffiti pieces from the previous photo. Includes work by the twins HOW & NOSM member’s of The Bronx’s famous TATS CRU and the artist POPOF. The wall was painted for Mother’s Day 2000.




























Looking north toward the Wales and Concord Avenue overpasses. This autumn photo shows the cut fully flooded.


























Same location as the previous photo, in the summer, but with many more insects and much more smell.


























Each alcove has it’s own collection of discarded needles and condom wrappers.


A 1997 graffiti wall shot in the winter.  The ice makes it much easier to move around.


A piece by the dutch graffiti writer DELTA.


A piece by the NYC legend SENTO TFP.


The graffiti artist STAK’s piece.


The Australian graffiti writer ATOME refers to “Crack Town”.


The artist NEON’s piece.


New York Legend DAZE’s piece.


Under the Wales Avenue underpass. A narrow walkway along the left is mostly dry.

Swedish graffiti artist BLUE.

Another piece in the cut by SENTO. Where we got the name CRAK TRAX from…

A 1999 piece update by MILK.

Graffiti pieces by the writers ZEDZ and YALT.


The entrance to the St. Mary’s Tunnel that runs under St. Mary’s Park...  An engraving shows this older section of the tunnel was completed in 1905.

Trash. At one time a stairway (just visible in front of the right side of the tunnel entrance- click photo to enlarge) down to the track level was constructed out of shipping pallets, but it has since been dismantled.

Photo of the same location shot in the winter. Another older photo showing the tracks.

The tunnel’s ceiling vent. Pitch blackness, plenty of filthy water and still more discarded needles made kneeling to get this photo a challenge.  The surrounding walls that fall in the occasional light of the vent are now covered with graffiti.

An alcove. Needles, a razor, a boot and a Barbie doll.

Looking back south, from where we came in.

Looking north, ahead to the joint between the old tunnel and the newer covered section. It’s very dark.

A ring of light from the vent highlights the old/new gap. If the water is disturbed, the smell greatly increases.

Needles and an alcohol prep pad wrapper.

The rope ladder up to a crawl space. A man living near the tunnel said that a guy, “a big gorilla” lives up there and warned us to avoid him. He didn’t seem like a man who made jokes.

Looking north towards the end of this covered section. It’s still relatively cold in there.

Cooking and shooting. So involved in their work, they didn’t acknowledge our passing.

Looking south towards the end of the covered section.

A series of track side homes. Tarps, scrap lumber and construction ruins provide the shelter.

The 5 Train crosses over the tracks. Ladders and scaffolding sections provide access from the above streets.

“Slave Power” graffiti. Artist unknown.

Abandoned cars, burnt and stripped, under Westchester Avenue.

Graffiti character by NASH.


Looking south, back towards the tunnel from underneath Westchester. 


A Rooster. Copper and metal  scavengers have ripped out the walls of the alcoves along the tracks where wires once ran.


A man named Tanaka, living under Westchester Avenue. He let us borrow his flashlight when it started to get dark. Ours had died. We gave him $10.00.


Leather seating surfaces. Looking north to the section that runs alongside a running track and, further along, through a baseball field.

Someone’s home. A picture of a Ferrari with a small clock embedded in it is propped up nearby.

Looking south, back at Westchester Avenue... Cooking and shooting under the overpass.


The three track-side pieces in detail.  From left: ATOME, SENTO and MILK.


Stripped and burnt cars. Years ago construction workers told us that an old age home was going to be built in the field.  Today, part of the field is a baseball diamond, the other areas show that construction is taking place. Last time we checked.


The 156th Street overpass at twilight. Action under the bridge.  


Looking south at sunset, out into the field that is now built on. The 5 Train lights are in the distance.


A path leading into the darkness that starts around 157th Street. 


Looking south. Burnt and stripped.

In the dark, north of 157th.


Near Brook Avenue, looking north. The northern stretch of the walk.


Looking south.  When we last walked this section the tunnel had been dragged recently, removing bulk items of trash.

Under Third Avenue. Needles remain, despite the clean-up.


Brick and stone ruins, track-side, looking east.


Metal coming off inside the cleaned tunnel. Up around 161st (?).

Looking south east. 


The Saint Peter and Paul Church, visible from the train line path. Torn down sections of fence litter the path.


Newly constructed homes in the freshly cleaned tunnel. Possibly up as far north as Elton Avenue.  We start the return walk south…


4 comments:

  1. What a mess, the real ground zero

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  2. This is an amazing glimpse, at what life can be like, for the unfortunate in the Bronx.

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