This tunnel goes by many names
February 6, 2015 10:31 PM   Subscribe

"In 1914, a four-block-long tunnel was constructed through College Hill in Providence, Rhode Island to let the trolley system easily and quickly move from Main Street to Thayer Street and vice versa. After 34 years of use, it was paved to support buses and trackless trolleys. Though the trolley system was taken apart after about a decade, the tunnel continues to provide a portal for Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) buses to get up and down College Hill without being affected by traffic — but that is not the only purpose the tunnel serves. Despite several messages by the tunnel’s entrances warning passersby of the illegality of doing so, graffiti writers frequent the tunnel to spread their paint on its walls. I followed suit on two occasions to document it for others."
posted by ursus_comiter (20 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
I eagerly clicked but received the following pop-up message: "The author has marked this story as mature. It may contain disturbing or graphic content. Do you wish to continue?" Yikes! Can you just give me a rough idea of what they're referring to?
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 10:46 PM on February 6, 2015


A quick scan reveals a couple pictures of graffitied sex organs.
posted by charmedimsure at 11:11 PM on February 6, 2015


We had an interesting graffiti story in little ol' San Luis Obispo recently. Somebody had put a BIG tag on the side of a railroad bridge over Highway 101 near the middle of town. As the picture shows it was a rather impressive accomplishment, 4 white, black-bordered letters several feet tall: "UOME" (yoU Owe ME?) with two little signatures beside it. The logistics for doing this piece of vandalism were impressive - hanging over the bridge above a freeway in the late night. It was visible a mile down the freeway. And then the overlapping jurisdictions - the Union Pacific Railroad which is usually slow to clean up graffiti, the California Dept. of Transportation which needed to close lanes to provide access, and the City of San Luis Obispo, which fielded most of the complaints - gave the graffitist the benefit of bureaucratic confusion. But then, two nights after it hit the local newspaper, another "person unknown" went up on the bridge with his own cans of grey paint and somehow covered over the whole thing! You don't often see acts of 'anti-graffiti vandalism' as big, visible and dangerous as this. Only in California?
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:12 PM on February 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


"I walked through a bus tunnel and someone had written B===D on the wall."

I guess I was expecting more.
posted by ryanrs at 11:21 PM on February 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh, that tunnel is by no means "confusingly similar" to the East Side Railroad Tunnel. But perhaps I should let him and others to continue to believe that. The other tunnel is a mile-long journey through profound darkness, filled with mystery, and tiny stalagmites, and burned out cars, and mushrooms, and Lovecraft, and ghosts, and ancient beer cans and takes a long time to spelunk, the Trolley tunnel is just a quick roll of the bowling ball.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 11:54 PM on February 6, 2015 [10 favorites]


This_Will_Be_Good, I have walked through that train tunnel at night with some friends, with no flashlights. We walked along the tracks, hand in hand. It was so pitch black you couldn't see your hand right in front of your face. We walked the mile long tracks, constantly talking to each other to distract from the various ominous sounds we pretended not to hear. Then after what seemed like an eternity, was that a pixel of light our eyes were detecting? Maybe a stray photon? After a little while some more, and we began to appreciate the saying 'light at the end of the tunnel'. Eventually we made it to the entrance near downtown Providence.

Afterwards we talked to some friends about our adventure. "Aren't you afraid of the trains?" "Trains? we thought the tunnel was abandoned!" "No, an occasional train still runs through that tunnel"

. . .
posted by eye of newt at 12:19 AM on February 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


eye of newt: "Afterwards we talked to some friends about our adventure. "Aren't you afraid of the trains?" "Trains? we thought the tunnel was abandoned!" "No, an occasional train still runs through that tunnel""

I think you and your friends may have drained your "luck" accounts by a considerable bit during that adventure. (Glad everything turned out OK!)
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 1:13 AM on February 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Aren't you afraid of the trains?" "Trains? we thought the tunnel was abandoned!" "No, an occasional train still runs through that tunnel""

I've walked through a couple of active train tunnels, and they both had small cubby holes set every hundred feet or so, just big enough for a couple of people to squish inside if a train came. Hopefully your tunnel had those as well.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:11 AM on February 7, 2015


In Caitlin Kiernan's novels set in Providence (where she resides), those tunnels are one of the many ways to enter an underworld of ghuls, human changelings, and various other nasties.
posted by Kitteh at 7:21 AM on February 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


How is this not solved by putting a video camera at either end of the tunnel? Isn't this in the USA? Can there be an urban tunnel not covered with cameras on either end?
posted by spitbull at 7:43 AM on February 7, 2015


I imagined from the description that the graffiti would be much more colourful and interesting. I did laugh at 'woman bored of penis graffiti' though.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:43 AM on February 7, 2015


This is crappy graffiti
posted by pan at 9:03 AM on February 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's a great, exciting shortcut on a bike to get from the east side to downtown. Among folks I knew, that was one of its main uses (besides RIPTA).
posted by likeatoaster at 9:50 AM on February 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


How is this not solved by putting a video camera at either end of the tunnel? Isn't this in the USA? Can there be an urban tunnel not covered with cameras on either end?

Groups with the the organizational skills and derring do to dangle off a railroad bridge into the regulatory gap between two beuracracies aren't going to be stopped by cameras at the enterances to their art galleries- after all, they already have ropes, paint and a proven willingness to engage in acts of vandalism.
posted by elsp at 10:54 AM on February 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's not what I would call graffiti; it's tags.

There are zillions of sites out there with tunnel art, train graffiti, abandoned buildings full of amazing stuff. And check out some of the Banksy installations.

Tags = not art, just spray scrawls.
posted by CrowGoat at 11:42 AM on February 7, 2015


Back in the eighties, we used to drop acid, roll down the grassy slope at the State House, and run through these tunnels.

Thanks for the post, now I'm all nostalgic.
posted by MrVisible at 1:54 PM on February 7, 2015


There are no trains running through the east side railroad tunnel. It's sealed on one end and it leads to an abandoned bridge on the other. You can tell right away it's not maintained.

And the graffiti is MUCH better.
posted by goingonit at 6:09 PM on February 7, 2015


I went to a Brown University, and one of the campus urban legends was that Ted Turner rolled a bowling ball down that RIPTA tunnel, and that's why he got kicked out of Brown.
posted by jonp72 at 10:14 PM on February 7, 2015


There was some talk a while ago that they were going to redevelop the East Side railroad tunnel - did anything come of that?

Don't forget the Up Bridge, if anyone gets through the railroad tunnel and is still looking to earn another badge for seeing tags in stupidly dangerous places.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:49 AM on February 8, 2015


Oh man, Art in Ruins is still alive!

So much good stuff there about the ruins of Providence, including their pages on:
East Side Railroad Tunnel
Seekonk Bridge
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:56 AM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


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