Although the passageway has been plagued by complaints over drug use, vagrancy and general neglect, the street art on its walls had always been a source of pride.
The tunnel, which stretches underground for three blocks from Broadway to the subway station at St. Nicholas Avenue, even achieved fame in Lin-Manuel Miranda's 2021 film "In the Heights."
The DOT says the scrubbing is the "first step towards creating new art with the community" and will begin requesting proposals from local artists to repaint the tunnel this week.
But the agency has been down this road before, inviting five artists in 2015 to beautify the passageway. Over the years intrepid taggers mostly covered up the original work.
As the tunnel waits for its latest makeover, here's a look back at its walls in 2018 and 2019.