Secret Tunnels Under Texas Cities: An Underworld of Shops & Eateries

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Tony Maples Photography


Have you wondered about “the tunnels” under some Texas cities? If you live in Dallas or Houston, have you ever been curious about the underworld beneath downtown? Could there be a secret world of shopping, eateries, and more to explore underground? Well, this Texas Hill Country writer can definitely vouch for these worlds of tunnels. Houston, Texas is home to one of these longstanding historic underground marvels. “The first link was built in the 1930s by Ross Sterling to connect two neighboring buildings he owned, inspired by the tunnel system at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City,” according to Wikipedia.

Having worked in downtown Houston for many years, it was an interesting surprise to find what seemed like a secret entrance to another world right at the footsteps of a busy downtown building. Stairs led you straight into a whole other option of places to shop and eat during your lunch break. It’s a little get-away right at your disposal to make you feel as if you just stepped into a movie scene from something like the sci-fi thriller“Demolition Man.”

The video below highlights the trek that a writer took along the two-mile tunnel trail in the Dallas underworld.

Video: YouTube/The Dallas Morning News

These tunnels are an underground passageway full of possibilities. Are you ready to explore? Not to mention, get in all those steps that you’re aiming for? This summer, escape the Texas heat in a climate-controlled maze that you can enter through one building, and if you’re not careful end up blocks down from where you started as you exit.

It’s not unusual to see women dressed in suits sporting their running shoes as they make their way through the various shops and restaurants throughout the tunnels. With a food court and options that range from fast food to sit down restaurants, there is something for everyone. You may even come across a barbershop or beauty and nail salon along your route. There are even travel agencies to stop in and get some information on that next vacation among the Houston tunnel system.

Photos of Houston tunnels: Sonia Ramirez

A handy map created by Noah Jeppson is a must before venturing the Dallas tunnels. “Dallas Pedestrian Network,” is the online map to use as a guide as you venture down under. “Downtown’s network of underground passages and sky bridges were designed in the late 1960s by international city planner Vincent Ponte,” shared Over the years various thoughts and ideas regarding the Dallas tunnels were voiced. “Many felt the tunnels had robbed downtown of its vibrancy. One urban researcher, William Whyte, in his 1988 book, City: Rediscovering the Center, wrote that Dallas was the city that had done the most to kill off its urban street life,” shared

Despite the controversies and efforts to do away with the Dallas tunnels, they’re still going strong. Have you visited these tunnels? Do you feel they serve a good purpose? Are there any you’ve come across in our great state of Texas that we might be missing? Let us know!