Abandoned Places: Ghosts of Vacations Past

by Colleen Clark

Atlantic Avenue Railway Tunnel, Brooklyn, New York

"The tunnel, dark as the grave, cold, damp and silent. How beautiful look heaven and earth again when you emerge from such gloom!" That's how Walt Whitman once described America's oldest subway tunnel. The 1844 construction and subsequent operation of this half-mile tunnel under Brooklyn's Atlantic Avenue were plagued by bloodshed: A workman shot his foreman at point-blank range, another laborer was buried alive under a collapsed wall, and a train beheaded a passenger who fell onto the tracks. After being sealed up in 1861, legend has it the dank passageways sheltered river pirates, smugglers, and, later, bootleggers distilling whiskey pumped to a speakeasy above. Nineteen-year-old Bob Diamond rediscovered the tunnel in 1981 by crawling 70 feet underground through a dirt-choked section less than two feet high. Diamond joined forces with the city to excavate the entrance and open the tunnel to the public. Now, each month he leads brave groups down a ladder under a manhole cover in the middle of a busy Brooklyn street. Below ground, they creep through the shadowy tunnel, shining flashlights on the debris of its cursed past.

Atlantic Avenue Railway Tunnel
Atlantic Avenue at Court Street
Brooklyn, New York

Picture courtesy of Justin N. Lane

Next: On a wing and a prayer >

previous | next
2 of 9 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | ... 9
Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its User Agreement, Privacy Policy, and Mobile Terms and Conditions.

iPhone App:

Create personalized postcards out of your favorite travel photos!

Learn More ›
Subscribe to our free RSS feeds:

Get the latest destinations picks, hot hotel lists, travel deals and blog posts automatically added to your newsreader or your personalized homepage.

Learn More ›


Special Advertisement

Contests, Sweepstakes & Promotions