For the past few weeks, we’ve been obsessing over the MBTA’s hidden tunnels. First, an MBTA engineer revealed to Reddit that Boston has a network of hidden underground tunnels. Then, we learned of two local architects’ dream to turn the MBTA’s abandoned tunnels into an interactive gallery. Ever since, our obsession with learning more about the MBTA’s secret underground labyrinth has consumed a good portion of our free time.
Most recently, we came across AbandonedSubwayTunnels.com, a website run by local graphic designer and technical artist Shawn Dufour. The site features Dufour’s incredible photos from around Massachusetts of abandoned and active subway trains and tunnels, power plants, mills/factories, railroad yards and more. We had a chance to talk with Dufour about his project and feature some of his incredible MBTA photos below.
How did you learn about the MBTA’s abandoned tunnels?
I fell in love with the subway system when I first moved to Boston in 1993. I was on my way to City Hall Plaza and the Green Line train was crowded, so I had to stand behind the conductor at the white line. That was it. I was mesmerized. To this day I spend most of any train ride looking out the windows. There’s a connection I get when I see industrial things like this, and I don’t really know how to describe it – it’s almost primal. In today’s modern society, there are so few opportunities to be Lewis and Clark, and I think this is where urban exploration gets its momentum as a pursuit.
What inspired the photos?
I was taking a photography class at MassArt, and we would get our assignments, and they just didn’t inspire me. I opted to do something else and started wandering around the city at night photographing construction sites, the subway system, the farmer’s market in Haymarket, the Big Dig and the demolition of Boston Garden.
What do you find most interesting about Boston’s underground tunnels?
I find the whole thing to be fascinating. The photos of the actual construction are so cool. I find the screeching noises, the humming, the smells, the bright lights filtering through the intense darkness, and the geometrical patterns of the tunnels supports and tracks to be fascinating. Men made these things by hand, and they are still in use today, for the most part. That notion holds interest for me as well. The abandoned stretches of track are like a time capsule of times gone by. It demonstrates how much the city has changed over the decades. Urban decay looks sad at first, but I love the richness of dust piles, the texture of rusty surfaces, the pattern of broken glass or tangled wires.
Check out some of his photos below. For even more, head over to his website. Enjoy!
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