Brooklyn Undergound

UNDERCITY from Andrew Wonder on Vimeo.

Today in Brooklyn, we finally have a nice day outdoors. Unfortunately I’m stuck indoors doing a bit of writing, sewing, and photography. As I was downloading photos from my camera, I came across these from last summer of Amanda and me deep beneath Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. While living in New York and taking the subway daily, it’s only a matter of time before you hear stories depicting CHUDS and the glorious abandoned NYC subway tunnels that apparently boast some of the city’s most beautiful architecture.

Now, our excursion was total legal (or so the guide said), unlike the incredible video above from cinematographer Andrew Wonder and explorers from UnderCity.org. The video is a little long (almost 30 minutes), but I found myself captivated by every moment of it. It’s well worth the long sit in front of your computer monitor. I’ve always wanted to do this, but fears of the third rail and being arrested have always stifled my dreams.

Below are a few photos from the tour of the Atlantic Avenue tunnel (officially the world’s oldest subway tunnel!) last summer. Unfortunately, the city no longer allows civilians to explore the tunnel, which is a damn shame. Despite how creepy it was to climb down that ladder at Court Street and Atlantic Avenue, I’m glad I got to see it. There are still soot stains on the ceiling from the old trains, as well as divots in the ground from the railroad tiles. The tour guide provided many stories about the tunnel’s history, including NYC Mafia and Russian Cold War ties. My photos pale in comparison to those from the Under City team, but it was great to spend an afternoon doing a bit of guided urban exploration even though it wasn’t quite as exciting as an illegal underground jaunt.

Amanda crawling down the ladder

The tunnel was surprisingly clean with no bugs or rats to be seen. However there were a few piles of debris about that almost seemed to be arranged.

Apparently W. Wafer was here in 1916 (or 1816?)

More arranged trash

Here you can see the divots in the ground from the tracks

Nicole Smith is an author, editor, designer, and instructor who lives in Brooklyn, New York. Check out her latest book, Skirt-A-Day Sewing, out now at your local bookstore, or online.
  1. I love that video. I wish I could have seen the tunnel under Atlantic before they closed it off to the public. Have you seen the Transit Museum in Brooklyn?

  2. Hi Aimee! I have been to that museum–loved seeing all of the old trains. I took my mother when she visited once. I’m very bummed she won’t be able to see the Atlantic tunnel, as it was right up her alley.

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