Atlantic Ave. Tunnel Tour

Hey, where are these people going?

Hold up -- somethings not right here.

Hold up -- something's not right here.

What? You haven’t been to the OLDEST subway tunnel in the world?

In 1981, after months of research, interpreting maps,  and navigating city bureaucracy, the 20-year-old student Bob Diamond crawled through a shaft in downtown Brooklyn and discovered this tunnel, built by the LIRR in 1844.

Worlds oldest subway tunnel

World's oldest subway tunnel

“Built to provide grade separation for early Long Island Rail Road trains that lacked brakes good enough to operate on city streets.  The tunnel eliminated vehicular and pedestrian traffic conflicts and delays.”

The half-mile tunnel (built in under seven months under the direction of Cornelius Vanderbilt) was not too profitable so it was sealed off in 1861.

Tour leader Bob Diamond, NYCs Indiana Jones

Tour leader Bob Diamond, NYC's Indiana Jones

Visit the tunnel yourself with a tour led by the intrepid Bob Diamond, who will tell the captivating story of his discovery.  He’ll also talk about the steam locomotive that he believes stands right behind a brick wall at the end of the tunnel, abandoned and waiting to be excavated.

Make sure to wear sneakers and bring a powerful flashlight.  Be prepared to climb down a ladder and to peel off layers of clothing as it gets warm and humid underground.

Here are some things I encountered during my visit to the tunnel:

Speak loud, I cant hear you down here

Speak up, I can't hear you down here

Old cheese curds

Old cheese curds

I went in December 2008 and they had some random, wacky actors running around doing historical re-enactments that I didn’t quite appreciate (very Williamsburg-acting-troupe, not my taste).   I hope it’s just Bob talking nowadays, because I could have listened to him reveal more about his past and current adventures.  He’s a genuine NYC treasure — so don’t miss this.

Cost: $15

Tours leave once a month in front of the Trader Joe’s on Atlantic Ave and Court St.

Call 718-941-3160 to make a reservation.

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