The Tunnel: The Underground Homeless of New York City

Margaret Morton, Author Yale University Press $26 (160p) ISBN 978-0-300-06559-6
Morton's four-year photographic journey takes place in a structure that was created by Robert Moses in 1934 in order to hide the Hudson River Railroad from the expensive apartments on Riverside Drive. When the rail line was closed down in the 1970s, this concrete tunnel stretching from 72nd Street to 125th Street along the Hudson River became a shelter for a large community of homeless people who are now being forced out as a result of neighborhood pressure. Using both text and 60 duotone photographs, Morton offers a sympathetic, multidimensional and powerfully humane portrait of this invisible neighborhood. Many residents have lived in the tunnel for 10 years or more, creating homes which in both cleanliness and amenities (appliances, pets, art--one residence includes a wall-sized mural based on Goya's moving May 3, 1808) disprove many common assumptions about the homeless. The text, drawn from interviews with the tunnel's residents, is a poignant sometimes surprisingly optimistic accompaniment to her pictures of a persistently nocturnal place pierced by rays of light. ``Once the weather really breaks and gets warm, certain seeds will drop through the grate from up top and things sprout over there,'' says one resident, adding, ``I always throw the melon seeds of the watermelon, and they sprout and the vines will grow down the hill. And they always end up dying, but whatever. It's just good to see something green over there. That's why I do it all the time.'' This is an impressive suite of photographs and voices that need to be seen and heard. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/30/1995
Release date: 11/01/1995
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 148 pages - 978-0-300-06538-1
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