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Not-so-secret passageway

Exploring a local oddity in downtown Amherst

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Ever dreamed of discovering a secret passageway in your house or a hidden door to Narnia? If so, a nook in downtown Amherst might just be the next best thing. This odd alleyway—not even as wide as an average doorway—opens up next to Antonio’s Pizza and offers a shortcut to Boltwood Walk. Marked in 1978 as part of the Amherst-wide Urban Renewal Project, the alley features a hanging wooden wayfinding sign pointing toward the businesses on the other side.

A green business directory sign hanging off the side of a grey sided building includes entries for Bueno Y Sano, Hazel’s, Blue Lagoon, Honey Crisp, and Ricelicious.

While perhaps not suitable for the more claustrophobic among us (one end is barely 25 inches wide), this passageway offers a unique, even slightly surreal way to reach your destination. Slim enough that it needs to be navigated single file (and sometimes sideways), the alley also features a two-foot grade change over its length of around 20 paces. Does it seem to be growing narrower as you pass through it? Will you feel different once you reach the other side? You’ll just have to visit and see for yourself.

Can’t get to downtown Amherst any time soon? Don’t worry, we’ve got a virtual walk-through for you.