USA’s Largest Abandoned Subway is in Cincinnati – and Most Locals Are Unaware of It

They say nothing is what it seems – and when it comes to Cincinnati, Ohio, things couldn’t be more accurate. Beneath this American city lies a nearly 100 years old subway tunnel with a length of over 3.5 km – and most inhabitants are unaware of its existence. But how is it possible for such a great project to simply vanish for such a long time?

During the late 19th century, the city of Cincinnati was in the top seven most populated towns in USA. With people using both cars and carriages for transportation, even the largest streets and boulevards were overcrowded. In 1911, the Ohio State Lagislature allowed City Council to use a previously built canal – which was an unsuccessful project during the 1870s – and create a 3.5 km long subway.

Unfortunately, just when City Council raised $6 million and locals voted for the project to begin, the country entered World War I and the plans were postponed. Later on, in 1920, the city almost raised enough money to turn the project into reality. However, the work was stopped again because of the big crisis.

Following this unfortunate event was WWII along with several arguments between locals, which nicknamed the project “Cincinnati’s White Elephant.” Although there have been many attempts of utilizing this abandoned place over the years, something always got in the way of the project.
Today, people are allowed to visit the tunnel twice a year owing to a local museum and the Over-the-Rhine foundation. Even so, most of the Cincinnati inhabitants have never heard about what could’ve been an incredible architectural accomplishment which lies right beneath them.

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. Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

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. Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

Closed off stairwell Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

Closed off stairwell Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

Looking south down the tunnel. The uptown bound platform is on the left, and a water main that now occupies one tunnel can be seen to the right. Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

Looking south down the tunnel. The uptown bound platform is on the left, and a water main that now occupies one tunnel can be seen to the right. Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

The downtown bound platform, the water main is visible on this side of the station. Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

The downtown bound platform, the water main is visible on this side of the station. Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

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 Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

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 Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

Linn St. Station is the least exciting of all the stations, because it's been completely sealed over at the edge of the platform. Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

Linn St. Station is the least exciting of all the stations, because it’s been completely sealed over at the edge of the platform. Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

Linn Street Station is sealed off completely. Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

Linn Street Station is sealed off completely. Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

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. Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

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. Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

The downtown platform at Liberty St. Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

The downtown platform at Liberty St. Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

Liberty Street Station. The fencing and lights were presumably installed during the fallout shelter retrofit. Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

Liberty Street Station. The fencing and lights were presumably installed during the fallout shelter retrofit. Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

The platform at Liberty St. The booth was of newer construction, and likely a part of the fallout shelter. Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

The platform at Liberty St. The booth was of newer construction, and likely a part of the fallout shelter. Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

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. Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

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. Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

Race St. Station is composed of three tracks with a large, central platform. Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

Race St. Station is composed of three tracks with a large, central platform. Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

Looking down the abandoned Race St. Station platform to the west. Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

Looking down the abandoned Race St. Station platform to the west. Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

The eastern approach to the Race St. Station. One of the tunnels is now home to a water main. Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

The eastern approach to the Race St. Station. One of the tunnels is now home to a water main. Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

Photo by Zachery Fein zfein.com

3 Comments
  1. August 29, 2015
  2. March 22, 2016
  3. November 3, 2016

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