Reading Summary #1

Alexander Reid Professor Arrington English 1102 14 February, 2016 Summary of The Tunnel (on p.57) The Tunnel by Margaret Morton is a part of “The Architecture of Despair” and ongoing photographic documentation by Morton of the lives of the homeless in New York City and how they survive and make their living. This entry in this project centers specifically on the homeless community that occupies the abandoned Amtrak tunnel that stretches from 72nd street to 123rd street from Riverside Park to the Hudson River. Morton starts off describing the history of this tunnel and the land it occupies, saying “The mud flats along the Hudson River were occupied by squatters when the Hudson River Railroad arrived in the mid-1800s. (Morton, ix)” Once the railroad was built, the area became a shanty town that fed on the garbage dumped there by the Sanitation Department. In 1934, in order to gentrify the mud flats into a stylish strip for residents of the nearby apartments, the garbage dumping was ceased and the railroad tracks were covered with a concrete tunnel to conceal “the dirt of the dense black smoke of the diesel engines and the odor of carloads of pigs and cattle en route to the slaughter house (Morton, ix)”. The tunnel was outfitted with concrete structures for use by railroad personnel. Once shipping methods had advanced to the point of making rail shipping no longer viable, the tunnel was largely abandoned and occupied once again by a community of homeless people who took shelter there. The text is organized by chapters labeled with different areas of the tunnel, which are then...

Reading Summary 2

In Margaret Morton’s The Tunnel, life of the people who live in the tunnel is described by many of the inhabitants to give an idea of what it is like to live there and what living there has done for them. A man named Bernard explained the life that he goes through in a way that he does not seem homeless at all. He has a home even if the common person would not live there. He lives there and lives a life that does not perceive his homelessness as a problem. Rather than a problem, Bernard is simply trying to find himself, and being isolated in the tunnel is helping him do so. Bob’s story is another example of the tunnel being an opportunity to find oneself. Bob was a traveler and very free spirited, he gave it all up and moved to the tunnel. While living in the tunnel, he was able to find out who he really was. A guy named Manny was able to escape his dysfunctional family by going to the tunnel. The tunnel is used by many to escape from hard home life situations. Ria’s story points out how it is more difficult for women than man because they can be easily taken advantage of. All of these people who live in the tunnel, one way or another, have reasons to be there. The tunnel is an opportunity for many to start over or retreat from the unwanted lifestyle that they live. The majority of the people in Margaret Morton’s The Tunnel, mention the freedom that they experienced by not having to pay rent or...
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