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Urban Infrastructure

The Oldest Subway Tunnel in the World

Photo by adam (Citynoise)

Photo by adam (Citynoise)

How often do you think about the layers of the city? Just this evening on my way home from work I was thinking about how the sidewalks and the pavement that I was walking on were likely only a couple generations old, it really wasn’t that long ago that our cities were paved with dirt when you consider the scale of history. So what’s under all this pavement, what do you get when you peel back a couple layers of tar and asphalt? In some cases you find things that have long been forgotten, well I suppose that in most cases you are going to find things that have been forgotten. For those of you who are into abandonments, we bring this post from Citynoise.org about the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel.

The Atlantic Avenue Tunnel is officially the world’s oldest subway tunnel, built in 1844 by the cut-and-cover method under a City of Brooklyn Street. It is a half-mile long and accommodated two standard gauge tracks. The tunnel was built in only seven months, using only hand tools and primitive (by today’s standards) equipment. It was built to provide grade separation for early Long Island Rail Road trains that lacked brakes good enough to operate on city streets, and to eliminate vehicular and pedestrian traffic conflicts and delays. This route allowed through trains to travel quickly between Brooklyn and Boston (via ferry service to Connecticut).

The tunnel was supposedly filled in 1861 in a fraud scheme that apparently just sealed off the ends. Bob Diamond rediscovered the long forgotten Atlantic Avenue Tunnel in 1980. The Brooklyn Historic Railway Association (BHRA) was formed in 1982 to restore the historic tunnel. BHRA successfully filed and received designation for the tunnel on the National Register of Historic Places.

Oldest Subway Tunnel in the World – Brooklyn, NY : citynoise.org.

Photo by adam (citynoise)

Photo by adam (citynoise)

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