People Just Can’t Stop Getting Arrested Trying to Visit South Williamsburg’s Underbelly Project

11/15/2010 12:47 PM |

underbelly project

It didn’t take long for vandals to find the Underbelly Project, that recently revealed street art hall of fame in the abandoned subway station underneath South Fourth Street in Williamsburg, and as usual the cops weren’t far behind. ArtsBeat reported last week that twenty people have already been arrested en route to the treasure trove, some getting cuffed almost casually (or not at all) and held for no more than an hour without even a fine being issued, others being stopped at gunpoint and held overnight. This sounds like the easiest sting operation ever, at least based on one busted trespasser’s account (which, if you’re feeling crazy, also includes a pretty clear guide to getting into the station). He told Gothamist all about getting there, and getting nabbed on his second visit…

As we walked to the end of the platform we waited for a train to pass and the station to empty. After a train passed some other people came out of the tunnels covered and fifth so it was obvious we were going the right way.

As you reach the tunnel (you’re not on the tracks but still a raised platform) you need to turn left (looks like there was a fence blocking you at one point in time). Once you walk past some garbage you’re in a long hallway. Deeper into the hallway there are some rooms on the right (track side) if you stand in the room and look up you’ll notice the ceiling is quite high. Luckily there was a rope tied up top and we were able to use that to get up a floor. It was still difficult to get up and we had to actually leave my female friend behind. It would still be doable without the rope but much harder.

Once your up you end up in a huge room. There are 3 or 4 raised portions and then 3 or 4 lowered portions; I assume where the tracks would go. Back in the direction of the operational station there are a bunch of shells for future rooms. There are two tall rooms towards the west there are two tall rooms, the top of which have manholes to the street.

In terms of the art a lot of it was vandalized. I’m not sure if it is locals angry at the gentrification or other artists who didn’t like how these people went about it. I hope that the photos were taken awhile ago and they only let the times post when it was already vandalized.

You can see on my flickr some of the damage. Most was just scribbled over, some had things such as “You don’t belong” “No No No No” “Not Feeling You” etc. The table and chairs setup was destroyed. The wolf man was still there, the projector was still up and running. I didn’t notice the creepy things in the vents so I can’t comment on that. In one of the manhole rooms there was some tiles that it looks like some people riped off a few. (The other manhole room had bags of trash in it so I think the artists cleaned the place up)

There was an empty PBR :-p

Thursday:

I brought two new friends with me to see the place. We meet at [...]‘s place and headed out. We split up in groups to not make it as obvious.

I was in the second to last group with two of my friends, we waited a little bit and after a train left we went into the dark hallway. As soon as we turned to the right the police shouted from behind us (there is another room to the left) and shone their flashlights on us, we did not get guns pulled on us. They hand cuffed 4 of us together and some couples. They actually didn’t have enough cuffs (we probably had a group of 9) so two girls walked uncuffed. The police station is right by the subway stop. We all got booked, they charged us with trespassing, a class b misdemeanor. One officer said that it probably wouldn’t even be a fine, just stay out of trouble for a year, honestly I’d rather just have a ticket, took forever to get booked.

Another arrestee cautions: “there’s no reason to go there now. Anyone who goes will be arrested… It’s just a certainty that you’ll be arrested before you see anything.” Besides, everything’s been tagged to shit by now, so what’s the point?