One of my favorite books as a kid was The Magic Tunnel, by Caroline D. Emerson. I read it when I was nine or ten years old, right around the time a paperback edition was released in 1964 (the book was originally published in 1940) through the Arrow Book Club, a service of Scholastic Books that brought book sales to schools around the country. My school was P.S. 233 in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.
The Magic Tunnel told the story of brother and sister John and Sarah who, on a New York City subway ride down to Battery Park to visit the Statue of Liberty, suddenly find themselves transported back in time to 1664, during the last days of Dutch rule over the city then called “New Amsterdam” before the new British colonial masters changed its name to New York.
I rode the subway all the time as a kid. We’d always ride in the first car so we could watch the track ahead as we sped through the tunnel. Now and then, we might catch a brief glimpse of an old, abandoned station my dad said were called “ghost stations,” or even dark, mysterious figures tromping along adjacent tracks, or hugging the tunnel walls as we flashed by. There was, I was convinced, magic in those dark and creepy underground passages. Anything could happen.