The 150-Foot Hole in Park Avenue

“Hi scoutingny! I don’t know if this would interest to you, but it is definitely unique, and should experienced at night, because you can’t see it during the day.”


“On the west side of the Park Avenue sidewalk, between 36th and 37th street there is a small construction crew. I don’t know what they are working on, but I’m pretty sure it’s a ventilation shaft for the LIRR connection to GCT.”


“When you are walking on the grate, look down.”

And that’s how I found myself suddenly standing over a 150-foot hole in Park Avenue.


Seriously, that’s a straight drop of 150 feet, equivalent to 15-stories. To put it in perspective, see that green dot in the above picture? That’s an MTA worker 150 feet down talking on his cell phone.


Just before Christmas, I got the above note from a reader named Jesse telling me about the shaft. “This thing is friggin’ HUGE and friggin’ DEEP!” he wrote, and he wasn’t kidding.


Pictures don’t do it justice – you’ve gotta be standing directly over the drop and feel that kick of vertigo to really appreciate it. Definitely go at night as Jesse recommends for the full effect.


And don’t worry – I’m sure that grate is perfectly safe!


PS – Very special thanks to Jesse for pointing it out!

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  1. “There are so many holes in Park Avenue, we didn’t think anybody would notice.


  2. Just wait til some dog needs to go…

  3. It’s rare to see someone quote Ghostbusters 2. Great line, Ben! 🙂

  4. I want to know what service that guy’s on.

  5. What’s that horrible stale air mouldy smell that comes from this hole? I deliberately avoid this stretch of Park Avenue, because of the smell. I get an allergy attack just from a wiff…

  6. Are we sure it’s MTA? There are quite a few water tunnel construction shafts around NYC….

    • My daughter asked a workman what was going on he said it was the tunnel connecting LIRR service from GCT to Penn Station.

      Water Tunnel construction is further east in that part of the city. A big underground portion on 35th and 2nd was just completed about 8 months ago.

    • I worked on this project. Those are the ventilation shafts at the southern end of the “tail tracks” for the LIRR Extention into GCT. There is a small shack on the corner that hosts a stairway that descends into the tunnels

  7. Jude from Flushing

    RR tunnel? Suuuuure….that’s what they’d LIKE you to believe…

  8. This reminds me of a time back in the 70s when they were working on the 2nd Avenue Subway, before construction was stopped because of the city’s financial crisis. Some friends and I had been to a movie and were walking back down Second Avenue to stop at a light at about 64th St. We saw that the construction grate we were standing on was covering an extremely deep and massive hole. We gazed down at bright yellow front end loaders, that looked like tiny tonka toys, as they moved back and forth. Amazing and brobdingnagian! (and yes, okay, we were a bit stoned, but passers-by confirmed that we were seeing what we were seeing!)

  9. Is there any others around? Or just this one?

  10. That hole has been there for several months now. I walked over the grate and looked down one night and was amazed by the rush of warm, humid air that was blowing out of it. I havent found any other holes like it but it is pretty awesome. I thought it was the gateway to the underworld. I bring friends there now and everybody seems to be amazed by it.

  11. I noticed that hole at the end of summer. I tried taking pictures with my phone but they didn’t turn out very well. It almost feels death defying to walk across the grate.

  12. That hole has been there for quite a while. They briefly closed it up for the holidays of 2009, then opened it up again. Until July 1010 I worked out of a private office on the 12th floor at NW 36th and Park and had the privilege of viewing the progress from high above on a daily basis. The hole is as impressive as it is spooky. Digging deep into the heart and soul of our unpredictable Manhattan. This is indeed the tunnel connecting the LIRR to Grand Central. The construction crews are blasting their way through the bedrock down below. Our building would get blast warnings posted in the lobby and the elevators, but boy was it scary when it happened. First the window panes would start to vibrate and then the whole building shook. Sometimes for what seemed a very long time and often a huge cloud of dust could be seen escaping through the grates while a bunch of hardhats would hose it down and curiously peer over the rim of the opening. Sometimes it would strongly smell like sulphur and on quite a few occasion was I tempted to make a beeline for the door and the emergency stairwell…

  13. That’s a nice shaft.

  14. That’s a nice shaft… Someone had to say it.

  15. You’ve stumbled across a ventilation shaft all right – a shaft to an extra-terrestrial spaceship masquerading as the island of Manhattan. Best to remove this page before any high-ranking alien sympathetic humans catch wind of it. You could end up in an ‘Enemy of the State’ scenario…good luck!

  16. This is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in an urban scenario.

  17. I just walked over that thing tonight…. scared the jesus out of me! I’m also really afraid of heights and it just came out nowhere.

  18. if I’m not mistaken, the tunnel boring machine (seriously, it looks like it came out of the movie transformers) is buried there / near there. i think the tunnel was for the east side access project of the LIRR.

  19. David P Crass, MD

    How many holes does it take to fill Carnegie Hall?

    • Practice! Practice! Practice! (sorry, please excuse the echo in here)

    • Although the holes are rather small, you’d have to count them all. Then, you’d know how many holes it takes to fill the Carnegie Hall.

  20. You can see my short apartment building the first picture!

  21. LOL. I used a pano shot of this very sidewalk grate for my tumblr banner pic. Didn’t notice the deep hole!