Underground Silver Lake Tunnel Will Permanently Close
The L.A. City Council has voted to permanently close a pedestrian tunnel underneath Sunset Blvd. in Silver Lake due to safety concerns, despite local efforts to transform the space into an underground cultural space. The 75-foot-long tunnel, located near Golden Gate Ave, was created in 1924 to provide safe passage for pedestrians and students of adjacent Micheltorena Elementary school, according to the council motion introduced by Mitch O'Farrell. But due to safety concerns over drug use, trash dumping and homeless encampments in the tunnel, the eight-foot-wide tunnel has been fenced off in recent years, according to The Eastsider. Locks placed on the tunnel entrances to keep people out have been repeatedly broken, which is what prompted O'Farrell to move to permanently close the passage.
There have been repeated attempts by the Silver Lake neighborhood council and other local supporters to clean up and better secure the tunnel. The neighborhood council even authorized “a request for community partners to help re-open the Micheltorena Tunnel for a variety of community uses, including seasonal art space and a place for cultural events.” But with repeated break-ins, the safety concerns have persisted and now the city has stepped in.
The Silver Lake passageway is just one of the many numerous pedestrian tunnels that were built beneath busy streets around L.A. in the 1920s and 1930s. But many of these artifacts of L.A. history have been locked up for years or sealed up with concrete, like another in Silver Lake a few blocks east near Sunset and Myra. Others, however, remain open with school employees using keys to allow students to pass through when needed.