Beneath Atlantic Avenue

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Bob Diamond leads a tour of the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel. (Photo by Jehangir Irani)
Bob Diamond leads a tour of the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel. (Photo: TheBrooklynInk/Kumar)

By Jehangir Irani and K. S. Nikhil Kumar

During the early 1800s, trains coming in from Long Island would emerge from the woods into the streets of Brooklyn and run over people, horse carriages and anything else that stood in their way. Then the people of Brooklyn persuaded the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) to put the tracks below the streets. And in 1844, the world’s first subway tunnel was built using a 2000 year old Roman technique called ‘cut and cover.’ It took seven months to construct and was part of the route between New York and Boston.

But tunnel was used only until 1861. The LIRR went bankrupt due to trade between New York and Boston shifting to the coast of Conneticut. And the tunnel was soon forgotten.

Then in 1979, a 19-year-old engineering student at the Pratt Institute called Bob Diamond, stumbled upon evidence of its existence. He then feverishly pursued it, even after being told by the “experts” not to do so.

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