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Abandoned island connected to New York City by tunnels that no one is allowed to visit
Featured Image Credit: TikTok/explorer.geo/Google Earth

Abandoned island connected to New York City by tunnels that no one is allowed to visit

Belmont Island is completely abandoned after a deadly accident in the tunnel

There isn’t a lot above the ocean line left to uncover on Earth, but there are some mysteries surrounding this uninhabited land.

You might have heard about this tiny island before, as it’s one of the few in the US that remain completely untouched by humans.

It’s situated in the East River off New York City, and this tiny little piece of land has a mysterious and incredible backstory.

However, don’t try to get your hiking boots on just yet as nobody is allowed to visit it.

The island in question is none other than U Thant Island, officially known as Belmont Island.

This tiny floating land is covered in overgrown greenery, but it’s the strange metal scaffold stitching out of it that is the interesting part.

Measuring just 100-by-200 feet, the island didn’t even exist until the late 1800s.

It was created due to the tunnels built by William Steinway, a famous piano maker who began a project in 1890 to build a tunnel for trolleys that would link his company town (Steinway Village) under the East River.

The island isn't open to the public.
Wikimedia Commons

The project needed a shaft to be dug into a granite outcrop (the Man-o’-Reef outcrop) to reach the tunnels, but rubble began to build up during construction and soon floated up to the reef.

Unfortunately, Steinway never got to see his dream completed as he died before it was finished, which led to the project being taken over 10 years later by August Belmont Jr.

Belmont was able to finish construction between 1905 and 1907, and the island had emerged from the waste.

However, tragedy would strike under the area during construction in 1906 when four workers died in a shaft accident after a compressed air pipe burst.

Out of all workers who were inside of the tunnel, four men didn’t make it out, as two died because of suffocation and decompression sickness and the other two drowned.

In a bid to save as many as they could 20 feet below, the foreman and his assistant descended into the tunnel, rescuing two people and hoisting the two men out who had died from decompression sickness. But it was those who drowned that still lie at the bottom of the tunnel.

News at the time showcasing the proposed construction.
The Library of Congress/ Wikimedia Commons

A Buddhist group went on to rent control of the island in 1977, which then changed the name of the land to honor the former United Nations Secretary-General U Thant.

Initially, they were allowed onto the island up to two times a year to take care of the greenery, but increased security meant that by the mid-1990s, visits were practically non-existent.

Which brings us to the present.

Access to the island is prohibited to the public as it’s now a protected space for migrating birds to lay. But if you stand on the coast of Manhattan and Queens, you can spot the small birds perched on the island.

Topics: New York, News, Travel, US News, Weird