"Village Subway": A Cameron Village secret

abandon room of the old subway in cameron village

By Elizabeth Daniels

Anyone in the past few decades to have visited the Cameron Village Shopping Center on the corner of Oberlin Drive and Clark Avenue, has already, unknowingly, tramped over one of the more beloved historical sites in Raleigh.

Thanks to a recent article in the Candid Slice, a News and Entertainment website serving the Triangle, the secret of the Village Subway has again resurfaced.

To date, more than 12,000 people have read the article since July 2013 and hundreds have since chimed in with their memories of the incredibly popular underground mall.

The short-lived Village Subway, also known as the Raleigh Underground, began in the 1970s and was shut down by the end of the 1980s. The Underground was known for its popular clubs, live music venues, boutiques and restaurants.

Ruth Hauser, quoted in the Candid Slice, shared her experience at the Village Subway.

“The first two times I saw Jimmy Buffett were at the Pier in the mid 70’s,” she said, “I got his autograph on a Pier menu and still have it. Good memories.”

The Pier, one of the more popular night clubs, along with Déjà Vu, featured other big-name artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Bette Midler, REM, The Ramones and The Bangles.

Unfortunately, the space was shut down in the 80s by the property owners due to safety concerns as well as fire code violations.
Anitra Stone, one of the hundreds to join in the nostalgia commented, “That place was magical. It always smelled of incense and alcohol, and seemed to be filled with black lights and great music,” she said.

“Every time I smell incense, I think of the Cameron Village Subway.”

Which leads to the question, if there is such a huge following and adoration of this now unused space, why has no one started a revival? In fact, there are supposedly groups forming to petition and convince York Properties, owner of Cameron Village, including the unused underground, to revive the space and bring back the incredibly popular nightlife hotspot.

Chyann Martinez, a sophomore at William Peace University, insists, “It would be in the best interest for our community to use that space for more than just decaying memories. I think it’s a waste of a resource; if enough effort was put into the real estate, the potential would be immense.”

Until then, check out the threads in the original article (CandidSlice.com) and follow the directions of those who used to frequent the Underground to find the hidden doors and access points. Be warned, one source mentions an alarm system on one of the entrances.

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