HomeArchitecturePhotographyBlog (Both)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Cincinnati Subway

The Cincinnati Subway is by far the most famous abandoned subway on the planet. It's also one of Cincinnati's most infamous landmarks, and aside from randomly scheduled and extremely expensive tours, no one ever gets to see it. Conveniently, it's a stones throw away from the Local Architecture headquarters. So myself and Gordon Bombay from Queen City Disco decided it was about time to make a visit.

Cincinnati Subway - Brighton Station
The east (uptown bound) platform of Brighton Station.

The subway was built by the City of Cincinnati between 1920 and 1925. Seven miles of the line were constructed in some way, from downtown Cincinnati beneath Central Parkway, and on up to Norwood. Construction was stopped in 1925 when the city ran out of money to continue. The project ran extremely over budget as a result of inflation. The bonds taken out to provide the funding for the project were taken in 1916, shortly before the US entered WWI. As a result of the war effort, construction was put on hold until 1920. By the end of the war, inflation had made the $6 million worth of bonds worth just a fraction of what they had been 4 years prior, and the budget for the project had more than doubled due to increased supply and labor costs. Currently, there's a little over two miles of tunnel that exist, and four underground stations. To read up about more of the history of the subway, visit Cincinnati Transit.

On a beautiful, calm night the gang and myself set out to find the hidden entrance into the subway. While most of the old entrances that visitors of the past have snuck in through have been sealed, as we have found with most abandoned buildings... it's very near impossible to seal a place up entirely. Especially one that's two miles long.

Cincinnati Subway - Photos Underneath Central Parkway
In front of us: nearly two miles of abandoned subway tunnels.

We were in pretty easily, with all our gear and enough flashlights to suit an apocalypse. The hustle of late night, after hours downtown Cincinnati continued above us, but we enjoyed the eerie, serene scene that was the abandoned subway. All in all, it was one of the most well planned and executed series of trips we've been on in awhile. The fact that the destination was a major historic icon probably played a part in that.

The following images are arranged station by station, starting from the southernmost station at Race St. to the northernmost remaining station, Brighton Corner.

Race St. Station

Cincinnati Subway - Diagram

The Race St. Station is the largest station in the system, and would have been one of the main downtown hubs. It's the only station that has a central platform, and three tracks (the center track is a stub on either side).

Cincinnati Subway - Race Street Station
Race St. Station is composed of three tracks with a large, central platform.

Cincinnati Subway - Race Street Station
Looking down the abandoned Race St. Station platform to the west.

Cincinnati Subway - Race Street Station
The eastern approach to the Race St. Station. One of the tunnels is now home to a water main.

Liberty St. Station

Cincinnati Subway - Diagram

The Liberty St. Station is the first stop north of Race Street. This station is infamously well known for Cincinnati's attempt to retrofit it as a faux-fallout shelter during the 1950's and 1960's, under the false pretenses that A) Cincinnati was important enough to even be a target, and B) the entire population would be able to survive together in a tunnel with a few boxes of "survival biscuits" for longer than about 10 minutes.

Cincinnati Subway - Liberty Street Station
Liberty St. Station. The fencing and lights were presumably installed during the fallout shelter retrofit.

Cincinnati Subway - Liberty Street Station
The platform at Liberty St. The booth was of newer construction, and likely a part of the fallout shelter.

Linn St. Station

Cincinnati Subway - Diagram

Linn St. Station is the least exciting of all the stations, because it's been completely sealed over at the edge of the platform. I'm not sure why it was down, but it seemed as if Linn St. would have looked very similar to the upcoming Brighton Corner Station.

Cincinnati Subway - Linn Street Station
Linn Street Station is sealed off completely.

Brighton Station

Cincinnati Subway - Diagram

Brighton Station is the northernmost subway stop that was built, past this point a few more above ground stations were built at places like Ludlow Avenue, Clifton Avenue, etc. on the route up through Norwood. Brighton was my personal favorite station because it represented what would have otherwise been the standard station, had the rest of the system been built. The other stations all have their eccentricities: Race St. being the hub, Liberty St. being a bomb shelter, and Linn St. being nothing but a solid concrete wall. That said, my favorite photos came from Brighton.

Cincinnati Subway - Brighton Station
Looking at the platform, and up the long sealed stairs to the street above. One of the gang, Lance Delune, was up the stairs with a flashlight.. it was 3:00am and the stairs end in a solid concrete slab, so there's no outside light coming in at all, ever.

Cincinnati Subway - Brighton Station
Looking south down the tunnel. The uptown bound platform is on the left, and the water main can be seen in the other tunnel to the right.

Cincinnati Subway - Brighton Station
The downtown bound platform, the water main is visible on this side of the station.

Cincinnati Subway - Brighton Station
The entrance on the downtown bound side, looking into the subway platform and track area. There are stairs and provisions for bathrooms to the right and left of where this photo was taken.

The Tunnels

The rest of the shots were taken in the tunnels themselves. Besides the stations, the two miles of tunnels have some interesting features as well.

Cincinnati Subway - Abandoned Tunnels

Cincinnati Subway - Abandoned Tunnels

Cincinnati Subway - Abandoned Tunnels

Cincinnati Subway - Abandoned Tunnels

Cincinnati Subway - Abandoned Tunnels

Cincinnati Subway - Abandoned Tunnels
The gang - part of C8P

Be sure to check out Queen City Disco for some more photos of the subway. And remember to follow Local Architecture on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with the latest updates!


5chw4r7z said...

There was a documentary on PBS a week or so ago talking about the subway and all the politics. Of course WW1 and the Great Depression played a major role, but a new mayor wanting to distance himself from his predasesors drove the stake into the streetcars heart.
That was all she wrote.

CityKin said...

They have been cutting holes in the roof of the tunnel along Central Parkway, near Bank lately.

R. Karam said...

I am planning a trip into the station, could you tell me where you were able to enter the subway? Any pointers you have would be much appreciated!

Unknown said...

Great photographs. It is very difficult to get any pictures to turn out down there.


Blog Archive

Total visitors to this site: