The Brooklyn Historic Railway Association is giving another tour of the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel on August 10th.
I went on the July 27th tour and it was quite an experience. I arrived early for the 1:30pm meeting time and saw a few people milling about at the meeting point. I thought I was in on something unique, but within a half hour the place was packed with people.
The organizers came around with waivers for us to sign and collected our $15 (exact change). They seemed a bit unorganized and we didn’t begin going into the tunnel until about 2:15pm. Arriving early meant more time down in the tunnel, but being late didn’t seem to be a problem.
The entrance to the tunnel is a manhole cover in the middle of busy Atlantic Ave. It was exciting to crawl down into the street. They brought us down in groups of 10 to keep the middle of the intersection clear.
As I was about to crawl in, the police showed up to find out what this huge group of people were up to. After talking to the organizers, the two officers followed me down into the tunnel.
We had to wait for everyone to make it into the tunnel for the tour to begin so we had some time to chat with Bob Diamond who discovered the tunnel, and snap some pictures of really old graffiti. Inside the tunnel it is very cool and comfortable, but you will need good shoes (you’ll be standing a lot), a flashlight (it’s dark), and a camera (bring one). There was one bench to sit on, so grab a seat if you are one of the first people in.
The tour takes about 3 hours, so be prepared to listen to a lot of history. This is a sample of Bob explaining how the tunnel was built.
The vents he mentions in the video. The black stuff is the soot from the old steam locomotives.
Coming back out of the tunnel was my favorite part. People were gathered around the manhole cover, thinking that something bad had happened down in the subway tunnels. As I was walking away a very concerned woman approached me and asked what happened. When I told her about the subway tunnel tour, she seemed confused and went to the person behind me and asked what happened.
Tunnel Tour Information
Date: August 10th
Bring: Comfortable shoes, flashlight, camera, water/snacks
Call 718-941-3160 for reservations