Sunday, January 10, 2010

Atlantic Avenue Tunnel Tour

Going on the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel Tour was my belated birthday present to Paul. (The original tour was canceled and rescheduled due to blizzard conditions on his actual birthday).

We had a great time exploring the world's oldest subway tunnel, led by the captivating Bob Diamond. It was a very cool, quiet, and (literally) underground experience- bustling Atlantic Avenue, mere blocks away from our house, was about four stories above us!

Bob discovered the tunnel in 1980 after years of persistence and dead-ends. He leads these fascinating tours tour every weekend or so for the Brooklyn Historic Railway Association.

The entrance into the tunnel is through a little manhole in the middle of the busy intersection at Court Street and Atlantic Avenue.

Dozens of people line up along the side of Trader Joe's at the corner, waiting patiently for their turn to climb down the little ladder. The eclectic group is comprised of locals, families, hipsters, photographers, and able-bodied history buffs, all carrying flashlights and hopping back and forth in excitement (and to stay warm).

The day we went was freezing cold- like 20 degrees! But inside the tunnel, it was surprisingly warm- about 65 degrees. We had to duck down to get below beams and conduits, squeeze through tiny doorways, and walk down rickety steps to get down into the massive dirt floored tunnel. Despite the hundreds of people who have gone on this tour in the last couple of years, most of the tunnel is amazingly untouched- afterall, it was completely forgotten for decades!

NewYorkology wrote a great blog entry about the experience- read it here.

Bob truly does a wonderful job narrating his adventures in finding the tunnel, combating all of the obstacles he faced (literally, metaphorically, etc.), drumming up support for the revitalization of trolley service throughout downtown Brooklyn and Red Hook, and we were thrilled to partake in a little bit of Brooklyn's convoluted history!

By the time our large group was on its way out, the arched brick ceilings were dripping with condensation from the humidity of our body heat!

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