An Engineer Took These Stunning, Unauthorised Photos Of Tunnel Construction In Manhattan

Before quitting his job as an engineering technician in New York City’s East Side Access tunnel project and starting a career as a photographer, Nolan Conway decided to take some pictures.

It wasn’t exactly legal.

During his final days, Conway ignored prohibitions against unofficial photography and captured stunning images of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s $US10.8 billion project to bring the Long Island Railroad into Grand Central Terminal. After quitting his job, he snuck in under cover to take even more pictures.

With Conway’s permission, we are debuting his photos and incredible story here.

'When I started this photography series, no photos were allowed in the tunnels by unofficial photographers,' Conway wrote via email.

'So I had pretend I was taking them as a part of my engineering technician job.'

'Tools are painted pink to ensure they won't be lost among the debris in the dark areas of the tunnel.'

'This is one of two caverns which will eventually be part of the East Side Access train station. It will house two levels of train tracks and pedestrian platforms.'


'These are ventilation tubes that pump fresh air from the surface down into the tunnels.'

'Many underground rivers and springs flow into the tunnels. Thousands of gallons of water are pumped out each day.'

'Sandhogs is the colloquial name of the local 147 Union which employs workers on nearly all tunneling projects in New York City.'

'The union workers were very aggressive towards me because there were concerned they would get in trouble.'

'They were worried about photos showing them working without safety glasses and gloves would be leaked.'

'It got to the point where I was constantly questioned by the union guys and was actually thrown out during my second visit.'

'In April 2012, an editor at a major newspaper saw my photos and was interested in publishing them.'

'So I returned to the underground tunneling project even though I was no longer working as a technician.'

'I had to sneak past security to get into the tunnels and lie to people when I was questioned.'

'Since I knew all the rules and protocols it wasn't hard to act like I was still working on the project.'

'It was really nerve-racking though. If I had been caught I would have been in serious trouble.'

'Sneaking around tunnels beneath Park Avenue is not taken lightly as you can imagine in post 9/11 New York.'

'The editor that I was in contact with suddenly stopped replying to my emails -- and the story was dead. Therefore, this is the debut of these pictures.'

Since this photography series, Conway has shot several more ...

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