1. The Lost Locomotive in The Atlantic Avenue Tunnel
Photo from inside the now defunct Atlantic Avenue Tunnel. Photo by Vlad Rud via Wikimedia Commons
For years, intrepid explorers looking to get a glimpse of the world’s first underground transit tunnel, built in 1844, could sign up for a tour with Bob Diamond, one of Brooklyn’s most quixotic self-made urban archeologists. After dodging traffic and waiting for the lights to change, guests would descend one by one through a manhole removed off the middle of Court Street and down a ladder. They’d emerge into a cavernous space over 2,500 feet long.
Diamond discovered the Atlantic Avenue tunnel in 1980, a remnant of a subterranean portion of the Long Island Railroad that connected New York to Boston. This portion of the line existed before the London tube was dug in 1863.The Atlantic Avenue tunnel was placed below grade to prevent deadly street level accidents between pedestrians and the trains in the already bustling neighborhood. The tunnel was sealed off in 1861, following a new policy that prevented steam locomotives from running in Brooklyn.
Diamond did the excavation himself and has been fighting for the last thirty years to use the tunnel to revive trolley transportation and create a museum. A series of controversies and lawsuits, worth a book in itself, halted Diamond’s progress and the tunnel was closed off to tours in 2010.
Diamond believes that there is an 1836 locomotive, buried in the tunnel and an engineering firm confirmed through an electromagnetic imaging scan that there was a large metallic object, about the dimensions of the lost train behind the wall. Diamond himself has lost access to the tunnel as well and most New Yorkers are skeptical that this portion of the tunnel will ever be opened to the public again.
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