Streams

The Lost Tunnel of New York

Monday, December 08, 2008

If you stood in front of the Trader Joe's in Brooklyn yesterday, you might've seen dozens of locals mysteriously descend into a manhole on Atlantic Avenue. WNYC's Arun Venugopal joined them underground for a glimpse of "The Lost Tunnel of New York."

DIAMOND: This tunnel was built in 1844. It's the world's oldest subway. It was built by the Long Island Rail Road.

REPORTER: Bob Diamond's no mere tour guide. He's the guy who re-discovered the Atlantic Avenue tunnel, 120 years after it shut down. The way Diamond tells it, he overcame all sorts of bureaucratic obstacles - and not a little negativity - before the city underground. The year was 1981, and he'd just seen Raiders of the Lost Ark.

DIAMOND: I got myself into a real pickle. I'm 70 feet under this crevice under Atlantic Avenue, sitting on top of a pile of dirt, and the dirt touches the ceiling. So I was like, what did Indiana Jones do last night? He began digging with his hands. So I began digging with my hands just like he did when he looked for the Well of the Souls. And I found the concrete wall, just 10 seconds later.

REPORTER: And then, he broke through the wall and discovered the enormous, empty space we stood in. The tunnel's half a mile long, and although it's not quite so lost anymore, Bob Diamond's still on the hunt. Next year, he's hoping to find a missing train car he thinks is buried in the dirt, at the end of the tunnel. For WNYC, I'm Arun Venugopal.

The Brooklyn Historic Railway Association

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