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Tour Brooklyn’s lost subway tunnel - Fascinating subterranean adventure open to visitors once more

Urban explorers are invited into the underground labyrinth beneath Atlantic Avenue, when Brooklyn’s own Indiana Jones, Bob Diamond, hosts another of his very popular tunnel tours tracing the living history of the borough from a very unique vantage point.

Diamond personally leads tours of the once forgotten Long Island Rail Road tunnel, under Atlantic Avenue, reached by climbing down a manhole at Hicks and Court streets. The tours have routinely been attracting more than 100 of the city’s most intrepid and curious. Diamond, the discoverer of the long forgotten tunnel and president of the Brooklyn Historic Railway Association (BHRA), never tires of the descent.

“You see this beautiful 19th century piece of engineering built using 2,000-year-old Roman methods,” Diamond said of the space. You also get a tour, guided by Diamond, who has become something of a local celebrity.

This excursion is uniquely interesting, in that the narrative will be enhanced with vignettes, performed by the acting troupe, Live Feed. The historical re-enactments spotlight three fact-based aspects taken directly from the tunnel’s colorful history: the German saboteurs of World War I, who it is said used the tunnel as a secret meeting place; the assassination of the “overseer” during the tunnel’s construction, and the NY Harbor River Pirates, who purportedly used the tunnel as their “Aladdin’s Cave.”

Diamond and his tunnel recently appeared on the History Channel program “Cities of the Underworld,” in an episode called “New York: Secret Societies.” And, he is also the subject of a documentary feature called “The Tunnel,” which could begin filming in the fall, and premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009. A trailer for the film, which is awaiting financing, can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7h4ugetCcw.

It is Diamond’s belief that an old steam locomotive is buried within one of the tunnel walls. Built in 1844 as a route between New York Harbor and Boston, the tunnel was sealed up and abandoned in 1861. The film could include the potential excavation of the hidden locomotive.

Come be a part of history as Diamond leads his next public tour of the tunnel, Sunday, August 24. You must call 718-941-3160 for exact times, costs, reservations and additional information. Note that the tour easily accommodates and appeals to all ages. The usual crowd runs the gamut from Williamsburg hipsters to families with small children and grandparents. The short ladder descent from street level to the tunnel is easily handled by virtually anyone.

Note, however, that to fully enjoy the experience, flashlights and comfortable shoes are strongly recommended. For more information about the BHRA, go to www.brooklynrail.net.

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