open house new york

October 11th, 2009 | Posted by Jill in Uncategorized

the tunnel

This weekend marked the seventh annual Open House New York celebration, which grants public access to many architecturally-significant and culturally interesting landmarks in the NYC area not otherwise open often (or ever, in some cases). The program this year featured loads of really exciting tours, many of which sold out in advance.

I opted to try and grab tickets for the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel tour, and to my good fortune, I was able to reserve two spots before it sold out. The tour takes you down below the street level into the world’s oldest subway tunnel, which was lost for decades until a man named Bob Diamond rediscovered its location in 1980. After excavating the tunnel and trying (without success) to petition the city government to put it to good re-use, Diamond founded an organization to lead tours, preserve its history, and promote the tunnel as a fascinating historical landmark in New York city history. Check out his organization’s website (and full history of the tunnel) here.

I can heartily recommend the tour, which they give monthly, and with plenty of excitement, I brought my tripod and a flashlight. Check out my Open House photos and captions below!

Two volunteers from the Open House New York staff and BHRA set up traffic barriers and remove the manhole in the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Court Street in Brooklyn.

Two volunteers from the Open House New York staff and BHRA set up traffic barriers and remove the manhole in the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Court Street in Brooklyn.

The tour guide led groups of us down into the tunnel via the manhole in the middle of the street.  That felt pretty awesome, as the cars were zooming by.  Strangely, you couldnt really hear much street noise at all.

The tour guide led groups of us down into the tunnel via the manhole in the middle of the street. That felt pretty awesome, as the cars were zooming by. Strangely, you couldn't really hear much street noise at all.

After coming down through the manhole, we entered the antechamber. This is where Bob Diamond crawled through and made his discovery.

This shot is from near the end of the tunnel, not 200 yards from the Hudson River and New York Bay.  There is a giant stone wall at the end of the tunnel, in which they believe that an old steam engine is buried.  Lets hope that the city and powers that be grant them money to excavate and find out!!

This shot is from near the end of the tunnel, not 200 yards from the Hudson River and New York Bay. There is a giant stone wall at the end of the tunnel, in which they believe that an old steam engine is buried. Let's hope that the city and powers that be grant them money to excavate and find out!!

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5 Responses

  • matt says:

    Really cool. I’ve often seen the long line of people along the corner there and wondered what the helk was going on. I’m gonna have to go check this out.

  • Niko says:

    Jill, this is an EXCELLENT photo essay. Not only are the photos great, of course, but the writing and narrative are just top notch. I feel like I was there. Really enjoyed it.

  • Lucy says:

    Love it! I just went to their site, and while I can’t make the Nov 1st tour, I’m calling for the next one
    Thank you Jill!

    L

  • Jill says:

    Hey Niko and Lucy — thanks so much for the sweet comments! I’m glad I was able to convey how cool the tunnel is. Apparently, they’re really trying to get it recognized as a citywide landmark, and that hasn’t happened yet. Apparently, they’re trying to run cable cars to and from Red Hook as a tourist / historical attraction and include the tunnel as a stop.

    But the amount of money required to do that — to make the tunnel safe enough to accommodate lots of visitors, excavate the old steam engines (if they exist), and raise public awareness — sheesh, it’s definitely an obstacle.

    Definitely check it out if you get a chance to! Niko — have you guys checked out any of the underground tunnels in Seattle yet? :) I’m dying to see shots of those! (hint, hint!)

  • Pingback: open house new york next weekend! // For the Love of Brooklyn



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