Thursday, September 2, 2010

Atlantic Tunnel's Bob Diamond Leaving Brooklyn? Say It Ain't So!

Bob Diamond — discoverer of the long-lost Long Island Railroad tunnel under Atlantic Avenue — informed the Brooklyn Eagle Wednesday that he is retiring and leaving Brooklyn. (See update below.)

Diamond's Atlantic Avenue Tunnel tours, where urban spelunkers climb deep into the cool, cave like tunnel under one of Brooklyn's busiest streets, attract hundreds (to the intersection just steps away from Trader Joe's) every month.

Diamond discovered the tunnel in 1981, after hearing about the legend of a Civil War era rail tunnel on a radio show. After an eight-month search (during which he was repeated advised by City officials to give up on his lost cause) he dramatically uncovered, intact, the world's first subway tunnel.

“The last public tunnel tour will be on Sept. 12. After that, I’m discontinuing them and leaving Brooklyn,” he told the Eagle.

Diamond has been long frustrated by the city's bureaucracy in his attempts to break through a back wall of the Atlantic Avenue tunnel in search of a long-rumored historic locomotive, and in his dream to rebuild Brooklyn's trolley system.

He accused Joseph Palmieri, the city Department of Transportation’s Brooklyn commissioner, of "sitting on grants" secured by Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and others that could have been used for a streetcar system in the borough.

National Geographic Television had expressed interest in filming a TV show in which crews would break through one of the Atlantic Avenue tunnel’s walls to see if the historic locomotive was hidden there. Diamond blamed city bureaucracy for holding up the necessary permits.

This is just sad. Perhaps it's Diamond's fault, or perhaps the city just doesn't have the energy or money for a quirky dreamer anymore.

Whatever the reason, Brooklyn loses when Diamond moves out.

Full story at the Brooklyn Eagle.

UPDATE: BP Marty Markowitz may have just saved the day! See here

- Quite a Crowd for Atlantic Avenue Tunnel Tour 
- Brooklyn's Atlantic Avenue Tunnel Is Probably Haunted
- What's Behind the Wall? Atlantic Ave. Tunnel Mystery
- Brooklyn's Atlantic Avenue Tunnel: What's Behind the Wall?
- Let Them Laugh: Bob Diamond's Brooklyn Trolley Idea Gains Traction
- Mole People Back in Brooklyn?
- Lineup For Atlantic Avenue Tunnel Tour
- Brooklyn Spelunking: Atlantic Avenue Tunnel Tours Return

Some video and photos of the interior here.

Photos copyright MK Metz
Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.


Carey said...

Booooooo! :-( There is actually not an emoticon sad enough to express how tragic Brooklyn's loss of Bob Diamond is. That man is a local treasure.

mcbrooklyn said...

Great news: See the update here:

Anonymous said...

As one recepient of Bob's numerous farewell e-mails, I have fresh insight into why DOT does not find him a worthy partner.

Bob D. said...

Hello all, Our Borough President has prevailed upon me to keep the tunnel tours going, and I will.

The problem is, and always was, City DOT. For the past 10 years, theyve displayed a "dual personality" when it comes to the Atlantic Ave tunnel and the streetcar project. Theyre simply lazy, and some are unskilled at what they do. The problem is specifically the leadership- or lack thereof, at DOT's Brooklyn Office. I just found a letter in my archive, dated 2007, in which the current DOT Boro Commissioner attempts to "buck" the entire project over to EDC- which then "bucked" it back to DOT, where they did nothing for the past 3 years !

As to "anonymous" - you were the only person who wrote back to me an said "good riddence", your no longer to anonymous (LOL) :)

bj said...

Thanks for sticking it out Bob. We've signed up for the next tour!

Bob D. said...

Thank You !! As long as people want the tunnel tour, I'll be there doing it- PROMISE !!

As for the new streetcar project, we've just posted a new webpage, containing all the specific information, as well as our design paradigms here:

Anonymous said...

Actually, no Bob, I did not reply to your annoying e-mails, so there are at least two of us out here of the same mind.

Anonymous said...

We went on last week's tour. I've been on it before so I know what's it's like but I was worried that my friends wouldn't get into it. I'm happy to report that my friends were blown away and they're planning to take some of their friends on next month's tour.