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