Atlantic Tunnel’s Bob Diamond Shipping Out

Photo via mcbrooklyn

The Brooklyn Eagle reports that tours of the Atlantic Avenue tunnel are done. Mcbrooklyn adds that the Atlantic Tunnel hero Bob Diamond is leaving Brooklyn, possibly because he can’t fight Borough Hall. Though he found the oldest subway tunnel in the world right underneath Atlantic Avenue, he has been unable to get the ok to tear down the underground wall he believes hides its train.

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.

Diamond says that his Sept. 12 tour will be his last.

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  • Jack

    Good! I’m tired of this guy tying up traffic at the corner of Atlantic and Court just so he can show people a hole in the ground that he found.

  • Jared

    SOB! I wanted to see this tunnel!

  • Jorale-man

    Me too! I was planning to attend the September tunnel tour. I hope some other intrepid sort can get the permissions to do this.

  • william

    Why doesn’t Diamond tell City Hall that he wants to build condos inside the tunnel? Bloomberg and Markowitz would give him a tax break, and a free grant.

  • Arch Stanton

    “Bob Diamond is leaving Brooklyn, possibly because he can’t fight Borough Hall” or is it on advice from his psychiatrist?

  • George Earl

    Maybe it’s good that the idea to knock down that underground “tunnel wall” is shelved. Who knows, but it could have caused everything up above it (such as Atlantic Avenue) to come “a’ tunblin’ down.” I wish this gentleman well, but do wish he’d offered free tours more often, and maybe even taken some decent pictures and written articles about what’s under there. Those ideas are, of course, theories.

  • Appreciative

    Am surprised by the ‘haters’… (tho william’s comment is hilarious.)
    Bob did more than discover a hole in the ground…With his own money and sweat, he helped revitalize the area around Fairway. He led efforts to install infrastructure and helped make the area desirable. Fairway would not be there today if it wasn’t for Bob’s efforts – and few of the other businesses around there wouldn’t be either. This is just one small contribution he has made…
    Tunnel tours aside, this man should be thanked for all his efforts to iimprove the Brooklyn waterfront. Too bad the dream was not realized but as they say, sadly, ya can’t fight city hall.

  • Arch Stanton


    Just for the record:
    I do not “hate” Mr. Diamond, I have met him several times and I actually think he’s a nice guy, however, he is quite obsessed with the tunnel… To me, the reason the tunnel was never developed is no one else shares his obsession. He rediscovered it and that is pretty cool but in the end the tunnel is not all that interesting. I have taken the tour and one gets the picture after only a couple of minutes, basically it is now a vaulted room a few blocks long. there is nothing in there to really see. The most entertaining part of the tour are Mr. Diamond’s tales of how the tunnel came to be, its demise and subsequent history. Real or imagined (probably both) it’s some great yarn… Then he goes into his vision for reopening the tunnel…. sorry but it’s a pipe dream. His idea for a rail link from Borough Hall to Red Hook is not bad. However, not the way he envisioned it; as a working trolley museum, but as a modern commuter light rail system. Of course the latter would not need the tunnel…

  • George Earl

    The most quoted theory of Mr. Diamond (though this has never been proven by historians) is that the tunnel underneath Atlantic Avenue runs down to the East River, where it once met somebody’s secret ships in the middle of the night and via which people who were then called “slaves” were brought up from the south for sale up here. Maybe the downing of that underground wall dividing the east from the west ends of that tunnel would reveal something to support this, as well as show us the train engine that is supposed to be there. But if he wasn’t given permission to continue this effort, I guess that matter will hang forth until one day when NYC decides Atlantic Avenue needs complete redoing and will scrape the whole route away. But will any of us still be alive to wittness that?

  • Obama?

    “…he has been unable to get the ok to tear down the underground wall he believes hides its train.”

    I’m not an architect, but couldn’t a hole be made in said wall to shine a light & see what’s there, rather than tearing it down?

  • Arch Stanton


    The area behind the wall is most likely filled in, so it would not be so simple…

    Also, as I’ve said before: It is highly unlikely the train is there…

  • davoyager

    I can’t believe he’s going. One of Brooklyn’s truly magnificent nuts. And he will be missed. I only wish I had gone down that hole and seen that vault when I had the chance; and heard those stories.
    Bravo Mr. Diamond, and Thank you.

  • nabeguy

    Where’s Geraldo Rivera when you need him?

  • Bob Diamond

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

    The problem is, and always was, one or two people at 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 disfunctional Livingston Street bus lanes proves this, literally buit “inside out”.

    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 long as people want the tunnel tour, I’ll be there doing it- PROMISE !!

    I was temporarily distraught, because Joe Palmieri (curently DOT Boro Commissioner) arbitrarily canceled my long awaited meeting with DOT’s envirnomental planners and engineers last week, and said “dont call us, we’ll call you”.

    The last time I read the NYC Charter, Palmieri, despite what he may think, does NOT make New York City policy.

    In fact, the REAL DOT commissioner, Sadik- Khan, is on record stating that she wants streetcars for downtown Brooklyn. Read:

    Why is the present DOT Boro Comm stonewalling his own boss? Wh does he actually work for?

    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: