NYC’s Worst Neighborhood with a Dark Past, The Hole

On the border of Brooklyn and Queens, lies a run down area at the intersection of Linden and Conduit Blvd. There’s no Streetlights, no Sidewalks, and no Sewer system. Abandoned cars, crumbling buildings, and mounds of debris are scattered between vacant lots and fields.

It has a reputation of some of the worst conditions in NYC. Sitting 12 feet below surrounding streets, this small Brooklyn neighborhood is aptly called “The Hole” NYC

I’ve always seen it on Google Maps (shown above) and decided to check it out one day and learn more about it.


Looking back through the old city tax lot photos, it looks like The Hole originally had a modest population of 1st-Gen Italian and Irish Americans who settled here from more crowded areas west in Brooklyn. Much of the surrounding area was farmland or marshes. I spoke to a former resident and he said the reason The Hole sits lower is because Spring Creek ran here and created a natural low-lying area with soft earth. The first wave of residents dug in foundations and created some of the buildings down below.

A few decades later, The Hole became home to the local chapter of the Federation of Black Cowboy’s. Many former vacant houses were now residences for cowboys and stallions. Unfortunately after many horses died, they moved their operation south of The Hole to the Belt Parkway, where you can still meet them and book riding lessons.

In the 1960s-1990s there was a large migration of people out of this area to surrounding Howard Beach, Ozone Park, and East NY. Many buildings started to get boarded up and dilapidated. Arson and drug use crept in from the surrounding projects to the west (East NY and Brownsville) The original population of The Hole was around 5,000 in the 50s, this fell by more than 80% by the 1980s! Photos of the 1980s are shown below. (To learn how I obtained these vintage NYC photos, see this article.)

A Corpse Burial Ground

Because of its location and reputation, the area has long been associated with crime, arson, and disposal since the 1970s. I spoke to former residents, who told me stories of burning cars, robberies on nearby Linden Blvd, and hearing assaults and possibly gunshots around in the vacant fields. A woman also mentioned a decrepit petting zoo owned by a resident who held cockfighting matches at night with bantam roosters. Another former resident told me there was a jewelry store which also cleaned guns and sharpened knives on the side.

All of this activity became magnified in 1981, when children who were playing accidentally discovered decomposing bodies of the Bonanno crime family. In 2004 FBI agents found more bodies linked to mob murders. It is believed that more bodies remain buried under the land, including Thomas DiSimone. He is the basis of the character Tommy in Goodfellas, played by Joe Pesci.

Today – July 2020

Today there are some signs of change, some houses are becoming renovated and there is a row of new housing developments inching closer to the Hole. However, some parts are still in ruin as it was since the 1960s. Here are some photos of The Hole NYC as it is today.