The Atlantic Avenue Subway Tunnel – and me

Long ago, back in 1841, the first subway/underground train tunnel ANYWHERE was built in Brooklyn. Walt Whitman even wrote about it. But it was closed up in the 1860s as part of a real estate scam, and most historians considered it destroyed. For about 130 years no one could find it.

Til 1982, when a Pratt civil engineering student named Bob Diamond DID find it, by determined research and by crawling under a manhole cover on Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn. And on Saturday, I and a crew of about 25 people got to explore it, as part of a documentary shoot organized by Jerry Kolber and Trey Nelson, about Bob Diamond and the tunnel.

Here’s the pix! Google “atlantic ave tunnel” for the background. It’s pretty wild.

Our manhole cover:

Going in, 25 feet down:

Seeing the tunnel:

Tunnel wall (stone on bottom is mica schist mined from the building of 3rd ave in Manhattan; cuz it’s in Brooklyn, part of Long Island, there’s no rock to tunnel thru; just sand and terminal moraine – debris. Google it! Roof is a brick barrel vault.)

Weird-ass stuff I saw down there:




Bob Diamond explaining it all to us:

A rare sighting:

And no, the tunnel’s not on any tours, or open to the public. Check the pix and check This Week in New York pix on flickr.com for more!

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2 thoughts on “The Atlantic Avenue Subway Tunnel – and me

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