new york secrets

by Anna Balkrishna and Erin O’Hara

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  • Old Atlantic Avenue Subway Tunnel
    For more than a century, the lost Atlantic Avenue subway tunnel in Brooklyn was a thing of legend: In 1893, The New York Times printed a story about pirates dwelling in the tunnel, and sci-fi author H.P. Lovecraft portrayed it as a vampire den in a 1927 short story. The tunnel's actual history is not so fanciful but still interesting. Cornelius Vanderbilt, then the operations director of the Long Island Rail Road, oversaw its 1844 construction in order to reroute LIRR trains that were accidentally mowing down pedestrians. The tunnel was abandoned in 1861 and only rediscovered in 1980. (A steam engine is reputedly still buried somewhere inside.) At one point, New Yorkers and visitors could see the tunnel for themselves, but tours of the underground space are no longer available. —AB

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