Unbeknownst to the thousands of people who walk and drive along the busy streets of downtown Brooklyn every day, they are treading on a 170 year old secret. At 17 feet high, 21 feet wide and 1,611 feet long, it is a big secret indeed, and one filled with greed, murder and corruption. Not long ago, M and I had the chance to go down a manhole in the middle of Atlantic Avenue and find out more. What we found was truly unbelievable.
Walt Whitman once wrote a column for the Brooklyn Standard called “Brooklyniana.” In an 1861 column, “A passage of Solemnity and Darkness,” Whitman wrote of “the old tunnel, that used to lie there underground, a passage of Acheron like solmnity and darkness, now all closed and filled up, and soon to be utterly forgotten, with all its reminiscences…”
Walt, as it turns out, was only half right. He was right that the tunnel, which he described as “dark as the grave, cold, damp and silent” was, for a time, utterly forgotten. Where Whitman was wrong was in describing the tunnel as “filled up.” For although he didn’t know it, The Atlantic Ave. tunnel remained there just below his feet all along waiting “cold, damp and silent.”
A Diamond Below
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