Most People Have No Idea This Unique Tunnel In New York Exists
If you’ve ever lived in New York, then you’re more than aware of how much fascinating history our state is home to. Here, New York City is one of the many places where you can easily walk by riveting history and not even know it was hiding right in plain sight. No longer open for tours, the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel has now been abandoned twice, leaving much to discuss about this historic landmark.
What many consider to be the world’s oldest subway tunnel, the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel (also known as the Cobble Hill Tunnel) was built in 1844. You may not imagine this era to be one that would have Brooklyn’s streets busy, but boy would you be wrong! Taking seven months to build, the tunnel had no stations for you to hop on board the Long Island Rail Road and was built to help reduce the area’s chaos. Open and operating for a relatively short period of time, the tunnel served as being a main part of the routes that from New York to Boston and Manhattan to Long Island.
In 1861, the tunnel would be closed and sealed off…or so we thought! The man who was hired to seal shut the tunnel ended up cutting some pretty big corners, only filling in the ends of the tunnel and capping off the holes in the street. Over the years, scandalous rumors and legends would form over what remained in the abandoned tunnel, but overall it was completely forgotten about until the early 1980s.
In the early 1980s, a young engineering student by the name of Bob Diamond would make the discovery of a lifetime. After hearing about the story of John Wilkes Booth burying his lost journal in an old subway tunnel underneath Brooklyn, Bob was instantly inspired to figure out this long-discussed mystery. After much research and with serious determination, Bob would eventually find the old plans for the Atlantic Avenue tunnel and would find himself crawling down into a small manhole cover, found at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Court Street.
After entering the small manhole in 1981, Bob would find a small space that required him to dig with his own hands in order to find the top of the brick ceiling that lay underneath the busy streets. Breaking through the brick, he was greeted by a burst of air that he realized this legendary tunnel truly existed. Bob Diamond was put in charge of the abandoned landmark, and would thereafter dedicate his life to the history of this tunnel and showcasing it to New York. Up until 2010, Bob would run weekly tours of the tunnel, sharing his story and the history of it all to anyone who came to visit.
To take a look at what it was like to enjoy a tour of this historic gem, watch the incredible video below!
Now it’s time to discuss some of the legends and mysterious rumors that surround this historic tunnel. Earlier we mentioned that after the tunnel was shut down in 1861, it was mostly forgotten about except for a few incidents. What brought this tunnel back into the media? In 1916 there were claims that German terrorists were making and storing bombs inside the tunnel and in 1940 the tunnel was even thought to be home to spies! An even creepier tale? Some say that during the construction of the tunnel, Irish immigrants were told that they would be working on Sundays, no longer able to attend church. Angered by this, a worker supposedly took out his gun and shot a British contractor, with the help of fellow workers the men are said to have buried the body inside of the tunnel walls. Creepy!
Another major mystery to this tunnel? There are still 6 blocks of the tunnel that have remained blocked off by dirt, untouched since the 1800s. Among many, Bob Diamond claims and theorizes that inside the blocked off area of the tunnel remains an old wood-burning locomotive that was once a part of the Long Island Railroad. Claims of missing locomotives from the LIRR and magnetic detections of a large object only further fuel peoples theories as to what lies inside here. Another thing Bob believes will be found inside the tunnel is John Wilkes Booth’s missing journal.
Interested in hearing more from Bob Diamond and learning more about this historic tunnel? Check out this amazing video below, you won’t want to miss it!
Were you ever able to enjoy a tour of this abandoned tunnel in New York before tours were stopped? If you’re interested in exploring more abandoned places in New York, click here.