Under Atlantic Avenue lies an abandoned Long Island Rail Road tunnel. It is the oldest tunnel in Brooklyn and dates back to the 1840’s. The tunnel runs from Boerum Place to the Waterfront and was built by the Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad. The tunnel was used to transport produce from Long Island to the Ferries, from there they were delivered to grocers around New York. The tunnel was closed in the 1860’s. There was much speculation that the tunnel was used by bootleggers, smugglers and spies, but those rumors remain unfounded. In 1980 urban explorer and Brooklynite Robert Diamond rediscovered the tunnel and had it re-opened. Up until 2010, the public was allowed to take guided tours on some Saturdays throughout the summer. The group started from a manhole at Atlantic Ave. and Court Street.
As of 2012 the D.O.T has yet to give a proper reason as to why the tunnel was closed, save for there being fire hazards and thus placing the blame for the closure on the FDNY. To see pictures and read more about this fascinating piece of Brooklyn history, visit the main website–Brooklyn Historic Railway Society. You can also find out how to help petition to get this tunnel once again opened to the public and read all the pertinent information and actions taken by the D.O.T on the website.
I’m disappointed I never had a chance to see this tunnel in person. I spent more time the last few years reading about Old Brooklyn and old New York than actually seeing it. This year will certainly be different. I have to see what’s left before Brooklyn is completely remodeled for future generations and all that’s left is one little cobblestone on Water Street.