Notes from the Underground: The Secret Tunnels of Brooklyn
Enter Electus Litchfield, contractor-swindler. It is Litchfield who Bob Diamond can thank for his tunnel. Litchfield was paid $130,000 to refill the tunnel, but instead simply capped its ends, sealed its manhole covers, and forged documents to state that the tunnel had been completely refilled. After that, the world’s first subway was forgotten.
That is, until 1981 when a little blue dot on Diamond’s “treasure map” led him to a smooth manhole cover near the intersection of Court Street and Atlantic Avenue. After removing the cover with Department of Transportation workers, Diamond crawled seventy feet to find a small door. With a long metal bar, he punched through the tunnel’s roof and broke through to its cool interior. It measured seventeen feet tall, twenty-one feet wide, and some 1,611 feet long.