Cypress Park tunnel goes from gang ridden to underground art gallery

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From gang ridden to underground art gallery, a tunnel in Cypress Park is bringing the community together. (KABC)

There's plenty of activity below the streets of Los Angeles, but for a community in Cypress Park, the life in one tunnel could be described as unexpected.

The tunnel runs under a busy section of Figueroa Street near the Antigua Coffee House. Quite inconspicuous, the tunnel would not stand out to those passing by.

But for members of the community, the tunnel is a symbol of change.

"The tunnel is bringing the community together in a very positive way. The community has had a bad reputation and now that has changed. And I think the tunnel is part of that change," explained Rafael Gaeta, principal of Nightingale Middle School.

Back in the 1980s, the tunnel was used by children to cross the high traffic area. But authorities were forced to close the tunnel due to gang activity.

In 2009, Yancy Quinones, the owner of Antigua Coffee House, wanted the community to reclaim the tunnel and turn it into an art gallery.

Years later, his dream has brought the neighborhood together.

"I was born and raised in Cypress Park my whole life, growing up here with the gangs and the violence," Quinones said. "You're here and you're able to do something positive. Put pride into your own neighborhood."

Though art from local artists grace the walls of the tunnel, organizers said the space is much more than an art gallery.

"It's taken an old piece of the urban landscape and restructured it," art curator Gary De La Rosa shared. "It all interconnects. It's not just about the art, it's about connecting the neighborhood."

You can stroll through the tunnel by heading to the 3400 block of North Figueroa Street. To learn more about the art tunnel, click here.

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