Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cincinnati's Abandoned Subway

Unknown to many Cincinnatians, sprawling under their feet is a vast network of abandoned and derelict subway tunnels – in fact, the United States’ largest abandoned subway tunnel. Construction of the Cincinnati subway began sometime around 1917, however, just 11 days earlier the United States entered World War I and construction was halted. By 1925 construction slowed to a stop before even half of the proposed 16 mile line was completed. Seven miles between Cincinnati's central business district and the industrial suburb of Norwood were tunneled, bridged, or graded, but no track was laid and no subway cars were ordered. No passengers ever rode between the six stations that were built.

The incomplete Cincinnati line sat fallow through the Great Depression and WWII. Bridges, stations, and retaining walls along the surface stretches deteriorated to such an extent that a few items actually collapsed. Nearly everything above ground was bulldozed to make way for portions of I-75 and the Norwood Lateral in the 1950's and 1970's, respectively. The mute two mile tunnel that remains under Central Parkway is unknown to many Cincinnati natives.

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