February 22, 2011

The Old Atlantic Avenue Tunnel Closed By City

A few years ago, I took a tour of the old Atlantic Avenue tunnel.  The tunnel, dating from the mid-1800s, was discovered in the 1970s by a young Brooklyn train enthusiast named Bob Diamond. Since then, he has been running semi-regular tours of the tunnel and had plans to turn it into an active tourist attraction in downtown Brooklyn or perhaps an actual tunnel again, providing connecting service for a long-planned Brooklyn waterfront light rail network.

Recently, though, the city has shut him out of the tunnel.  Even though he'd been guiding tours in it for years, the fire department banned entry citing it was "unsafe". There was an article about all this in the TIMES yesterday, explaining the unfortunate situation.  Granted, Diamond has never had the best relationship with the city since he discovered the tunnel after being told by the city many times it didn't exist.  But it does seem like there is more going on here than simply fire code regulations.

Anyway, it's sad to see access to the tunnel has been closed. It was one of my favorite urban adventures in recent years, as you enter through a manhole in the middle of Atlantic and come upon this large, old musty tunnel that runs nearly 300 feet underground. It's truly a lost treasure of the city and one that should be open to the public.

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