Think you know Brooklyn like the back of your hand? These 8 gems will show you that this borough has much more to offer than you thought…and it ‘s not without its secrets!
Built in 1844 beneath Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill Historic Districts, this is the world’s oldest tunnel. It was eventually abandoned, then rediscovered in 1980. It’s no longer in use today, but occasional tours are offered.
It first opened in 1927 and quickly fell into disuse. Today, it functions as a furniture storehouse, although the theater is still intact. It was originally designed to resemble an Italian garden at night. It’s closed to the public, but the current owners generally allow explorers in for brief periods – so ask nicely!
- Masstransiscope, Q train
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IwVD5efXz0 In the tunnel leading from the DeKalb Station to Manhattan Bridge is Masstransiscope, a series of 208 lighted panels that suddenly make the walls come alive. Based on a zeotrope, the foundation of modern film making, a series of images appear to jump to life thanks to the motion of the fast moving train. Watch the video of it using the link above.
Don’t brush this off as being just another hipster art project. It’s actually a fascinating museum and heartfelt ode to New York. A celebration of the minutia of the largest city in America. What grew from just a window display in someone’s apartment is now housed in a three-room store front a few blocks away.
Why would you possibly want to visit a cemetery, of all places? New York’s version of Père-Lachaise (first garden cemetery in Paris), this Victorian cemetery includes numerous marble monuments and mausoleums, winding paths and four lakes. The hilly topography also offers a view of the Manhattan skyline. Some of its most famous permanent residents include artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, telegraph inventor Samuel Morse, and “Boss” Tweed.
The entire bottom half of this house, from ground to windows, is covered in tiny plastic beads, colored tile, buttons, little toys and small circular mirrors. The owner of the house is a retired plastic arts professor, so the house gives new meaning to the term “taking work home with you”.
Showing a bit of darkness, the Topsy Memorial is a flip-book style “film” about the life of Topsy, a circus elephant in the 1900s who was electrocuted for “acting up” and attacking her brutish handlers (who reportedly prodded her with pitchforks and fed her lit cigarettes. But that’s another story). Tasked with carrying out the execution was none other than Thomas Edison himself, who at the time was in a bitter battle with George Westinghouse over the distribution of his direct current (DC) versus Westinghouse’s alternating current (AC). Edison, in an attempted smear campaign to show the public how dangerous AC was, had been electrocuting dogs, cats and livestock, but jumped at the opportunity to take down Topsy, a well-known performer, in hopes of larger attention.
This house may look like nothing special, but it is. The two houses on either side (56 & 60) have white-trimmed windows, flower boxes and that homey lived-in feel. But 58? That’s the secret. If you look carefully the basement is covered by a steel shield, the wall of “brick” is actually faux, and – the real tell – the windows are fake. So what lives behind this façade? It’s a hidden subway evacuation tunnel constructed by the MTA. Something like out of a scene from Harry Potter.
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