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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Saying Adios to The Atlantic Avenue Tunnel Tours

The New York City Department of Transportation has squashed All Atlantic Avenue Tunnel Tours. Ah, so sad. The Big Adventure wanted to mark the occasion now that one of the most unique, homegrown NYC tours has been closed.

To catch you up to speed, the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel is officially the world's oldest subway tunnel. This passageway was built way back in 1844 beneath a busy street in Brooklyn. It runs a half-mile long and accommodated two standard gauge railroad tracks. In 1861, the tunnel was sealed, closed and completely forgotten about. 

Fast forward 120 years later to when an intrepid eighteen year old explorer named Bob Diamond rediscovered the long forgotten Atlantic Avenue Tunnel in 1981. Diamond offered Grade A tours to the public for years and years. The tour was incredibly well received and led by a lively guide who doubled as a great story teller. Plus it offered the chance to crawl to unexplored dark places by sneaking down a manhole in the middle a of a busy Brooklyn avenue. The now famous tunnel is even listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In December,  Diamond even planned to lead a film screening in the tunnel!

  Good times for all until mid-December 2010. Suddenly, the NYC DOT canceled their contract for use of the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel with apparently with little explanation. The NYFD stated that the tours can't continue due the risk of only a single entrance - a ladder through a manhole near Court St. However, that was never an issue for the last 30 years.  Lots of uproar. Lots of surprise. Oh, yes and the NYC government also deep-sixed the one hour National Geographic TV special on the tunnel

We know that The Big Adventure Blog is intended to let you know what you CAN do in NYC, rather than what you can't do, but we wanted to mark the passing (for now) of this fantastic NYC tour. Hope springs eternal as petitions and protests are in the works to get the tunnel reopened. 


UPDATE: On 2/21, the New York Times posted a fascinating article called "Fighting to Return to a Subway Vault" detailing Bob Diamond's lawsuit to get the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel Reopened. Amazing writing. Read it here

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Big Dog Show - 10 Facts about The Westminster Kennel Club 135th Annual Puppy Parade

Happening right this very moment at Madison Square Garden are royal grand finals or some such of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. A NYC tradition for pups, owners, fans and Christopher Guest.The Big Adventure thought we would supply some quality trivia and facts about the show lifted straight from their own site -http://www.westminsterkennelclub.org/

Astonish your friends, amaze assorted dog owners and astound strangers with the following information:  
  1. The Westminster Kennel Club was established in 1877, making it America's oldest organization dedicated to the sport of purebred dogs. 
  2. First held in 1877, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is America's second-longest continuously held sporting event, behind only the Kentucky Derby.
  3.  The dog show has outlasted three previous versions of Madison Square Garden, and is currently being staged in MSG IV.
  4. The first telecast of Westminster was in 1948, three years before "I Love Lucy" premiered.
  5. A portion of the proceeds from Westminster's first show in 1877 was donated to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) to establish a home for stray and disabled animals.
  6. The Empire State Building first honored Westminster by lighting its tower in the Westminster colors of purple and gold in 2004 and will do so again in 2011.
  7. There have been a total of 299,024 dogs entered in Westminster's 134 shows through 2010
  8. Through the 2010 show, there have been 1,673 judges who have officiated at least once at Westminster, some as many as 23 times, at Westminster.
  9. Two Best In Show winners, Norwich Terriers, had the same sire: 1994's Ch. Chidley's Willum the Conqueror and 1998's Ch. Fairewood Frolic were offspring (half brother/sister) of Ch. Royal Rock Don of Chidley. We don’t even know what any of that means.
  10. In 1884, The Westminster Kennel Club became the first member of the American Kennel Club. 
For what it's worth, The Sporting, Working, Terrier, and Best In Show competition is going to be televised live tonight (Tuesday, 2/15) on USA Network from 8-11 PM ET

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    Optimus Prime Gets a Parking Ticket

    Only In NYC: Optimus Prime got smacked with a parking ticket near Times Square at 41st and 8th this morning. Even Transformers must follow the rules of the road and the cruel whims of the NYPD Parking Division. The picture below from The Terror Drome Twitter Feed fits in the category of hilarious and surreal.  

    As our friends at BuzzFeed point out, "Spotted at the Toy Fair in New York City, the leader of the Autobots refuses to recognize our earth parking laws. Or maybe he was ticketed for how soul-crushing “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” was."

    The Autobot and the American International Toy Fair in New York even made The New York Times  Big Stuff for one big truck.  


    Sunday, February 13, 2011

    Catching a flick at Radio City back in the day..with 6,000 of your closest friends.

    Some Big Apple trivia for you during this time of year of Cinematic Buzz and Oscar Talk:

    NYC is home to the largest movie theater in the world: Radio City Music Hall. Radio City opened in Rockefeller Center almost 80 years ago in December, 1932. Originally the theater had 5,945 seats and focused solely on First Run feature film. The company that makes Junior Mints was friggin' ecstatic. Designed to showcase a mix of films and stage shows, this format kept up for for 45 years. Last first release film screened? Caravans in 1978.

    The first film screened? The Bitter Tea of General Yen directed by Frank Capra. A...true...classic? Hardly. The movie was scheduled to run for two-weeks, but the theater yanked it after eight days. In recent year, the General Yen has received praise and acclaim by those who enjoy watching films that are incredibly old.

    For all things Radio City, we love the history feature on the official site:

    Friday, February 11, 2011

    Samuel L Jackson & The NYC Subway are not friends

    Even famous actors can have brutal subway mishaps. And This fact came up in a brief interview in Time Out NY Magazine last week, but The Big Adventure had doubts so we did some deep digging and fact checking to confirm. 

    Sure enough, it turns out that a pre-fame Samuel L Jackson was caught in the doors of a NYC Subway train and dragged by his foot roughly 150 feet down the length of the platform twenty years ago. Yikes. The now-ubiquitous movie star suffered a badly injured leg and went on to sue. He ended up with a cool half million in his coffers a couple of years later. 

    Living in New York and riding the subway every day, it is these kind of stories that are a touch terrifying. However, the best part of this old article from 1996 is that it refers to Jackson as the “Jheri curl-wearing, Bible-quoting hitman" from Pulp Fiction. 

    Here is the relevant part of the interview that ran in the Feb 2011 article of Time Out NYC:

    The movie begins after Black saves White from his attempted suicide on the subway tracks. Have you ever seen anyone fall on the tracks?
    I myself was dragged by a subway train. Years ago, in 1990. I was getting off the train, a lady dropped her bag, and I stopped to pick up her stuff. Had one foot on the platform, one foot on the train, and the door shut and the train took off. I got dragged the length of the platform! Luckily I was in the last car, I was a car and a half away from the tunnel before someone pulled the emergency cord.

    Were you hurt?
    It ripped my ACL to shreds. And I sued the shit out of the MTA! [Laughs]

    That's one of the quintessential New York City nightmares.
    I was one of 23 people dragged that year. That's a common accident.

    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    Best New York City Winter Drinks

    With a cold chill in the air and the calender telling us that we are smack dab in the middle of Winter, The Big Adventure presents a quick look at some of the tastiest, most unique New York City Winter Beverages.
    First and foremost is the 19th Annual City Bakery Hot Chocolate Festival running now through Monday, February 28th with a custom Hot Chocolate drink featured each day of the month. Complete with mouth-watering website. City Bakery is probably best known for their homemade marshmallows, pretzel croissant and hot chocolate in general. City Bakery has turned into a metropolitan institution over the last few years. 

    Upcoming deliciousness includes Darkest Dark Hot Chocolate, Banana Peel Hot Chocolate, and Love Potion Hot Chocolate (for Valentine's Day!). Visit City Bakery at 18th Street and 5th Avenue, but note that they stop pouring that rich, amazing tastiness at 7:00 PM most nights.

    Next is a fantastic drink made famous by an establishment called The Redhead: The Hot Chocolate Car Bomb. Twice in tasty in reality as it sounds in concept. We're talking hot Cocoa mixed with Jameson and Guinness, The Hot Chocolate Car Bomb is best described as "boozy, comforting, and rich" It makes the Big Adventure think of Dublin. You know, if Ireland were located in the Arctic.

    The H.C.C.B. is a mix of a traditional childhood favorites smooshed together with the love of an adult winter beverage all while leaving behind the needless slamming of glasses and shots. The Redhead is at the corner of Waiting For You and Now.And also at 13th Street and 1st Ave. Bonus: The marshmallows are made with Baileys.

    Completing our trifecta on great winter drinks (after all, it is -7 degrees outside or so right now) is the NYC Coffee and Tea Festival. Taking place in midtown Manhattan over the weekend of February 19th. Events includes an Ultimate Barista Challenge, “Brewing the Perfect Espresso” & Tasting and a whole slew of tasting events. Enjoy Quality Coffee? Get a kick out of tea? Plenty of samples, exhibitions and booths featuring tasty joe and hot java. The festival will leave you warm and awake till May. Think of it as a trade show but with a higher quality coffee bar. Tickets as low at $20. More information here: http://www.coffeeandteafestival.com/   

    Sunday, February 6, 2011

    The Budweiser Superbowl Ad of 2011

    Once again, not really Big Adventure related, but wanted to point out a stunning discovery that The Big Adventure made while watching the Budweiser Ad featuring the Cowboys wanting Bud in the Saloon and Tiny Dancer being played on the piano and what not during the 2011 Superbowl this evening.

    Of course, the lead guy in the commercial is actor Peter Stormare best know as the the creepy murder from the film Fargo. That's easy. But the good part (and stunning discovery is a stretch) is that one of the Cowboys in the ad was indeed the actor who played "Cookie" in City Slickers. Who points that out? That's one sharp eye for obscure faces. Ah, more NYC related stuff coming soon.

    You can view the actual ad (and all of the 2011 Superbowl Commercials) here:


    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    The Empire State Building Run Up 2011

    This morning as is done every early February, several dedicated runners took part in the 34th Annual Empire State Building Run-Up Powered by MMRF. Short of the NYC Marathon, this our favorite, most grueling race in the city. 

    A hefty sprint up nearly each and everyone of the 1,576 steps (!!) in the East Coast's tallest building takes the runners up to the 86th floor. That's a quarter mile....straight up. The Craziest Part? The record is 9:30 minutes. The Australian Paul Crake is the only person to complete the course in  under ten minutes. Who comes up with this stuff? Writing about this has just made the Big Adventure tired...
    Publish Post

    Official Road Runner Site on ESB Run Up 
    Update: So, another annual race comes to an end with tired legs and accomplished participants. Over 425 dedicated runners hit the stairs released in heats to ease congestion in the narrow stairwell. The winner? Thomas Dold- a 26 year-old German who tackled the ESB in Ten Minutes and Ten Seconds. His 6th time winning this challenge. Wow. For Empire State Building Run Up 2011 Photos and Images, see below. Former baseball star Darryl Strawberry was going to hit the stair for charity, but was a late scratch from the race after falling ill. Apparently, some ridiculous fool made the run while wearing a King Kong costume.Ahh...get it?