Thursday, October 15, 2009

Atlantic Ave Tunnel

Oh hey big guy, there's a hole in the ground. What do you suppose that is for?

Babs! You're climbing in! What are you doing?!
Actually it was I who invited Barbara along. I told her to get excited, because for my birthday we were going to do something totally amazing, that she would love, that was very New York and kinda rock and roll underground. I don't think she understood I meant literally underground.

This guy, Bob Diamond, found this tunnel when he was in college. He heard a story which mentioned the tunnel briefly on the radio and decided to pursue it. It became a treasure hunt with a little wild goose chase mixed in. It turned out he found the world's oldest underground railroad tunnel.
He is the tour guide of the tunnel and is really quite good at it. He tells the story of the tunnel, its history, his tremendous and inspiring story of perseverance of his quite to find the tunnel, and the corrupt "Tammany Hall" political goings on during the time of the tunnel. He inserts bits of humor, but not in the way tour bus guides do where its not really funny, he's quite good at it. He also describes they way the tunnel was physically constructed which was fascinating. A hole in the wall is not just a missing brick, but where the wooden arch would sit while they built up the walls. The rubble on the floor becomes a sign of a political cover up.

This is the first thing we saw after we climbed down the man hole and through the trench. The tunnel for the first time! They strung up a few incandescent lights for the first half of the tunnel, and the rest we needed our flashlights, which ended up giving the tunnel an underwater feeling to it.

These are the trenches in which the railroad ties used to sit in.

And here is the other end of the tunnel which is blocked off right now. They have raised funds to tear it down. They suspect at least one real steam powered engine is on the other side. And perhaps the missing diary of John Wilkes Booth.

After exploring the end of the tunnel the tour was over, but we were left to wander back at our own pace, exploring and touching anything we wished really. I think they don't bother with rushing everyone out because you can only leave one person at a time through the man hole. Babs and I decided to meander back slowly and without our flashlights on. Sppooookkkyy.

This is the hole they cut into the cement to provide access to the previously hidden tunnel.

Waiting to leave.

AAahhhh! Fresh air and sunlight after an hour and a half! We loved it! Not exactly recommended to execute hung over but hey it was my birthday and there wasn't much we could do about that little detail.
For more info and to find out about the next tour go here.

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