Of course, learning this knowledge is a moot point, and they want to fill it in with dirt and permanently seal it up.
Not, say, put in a light rail. Or, open it up, fill it with water and reconnect the canal.
The subway tunnel, which runs east and west beneath Broad Street, lies on the original bed of the Erie Canal, and some residents even advocate flooding the channel and bringing the canal back to the heart of the city.
"We were the smallest city in the country to have a subway," said Sandee Lyman, one of a few dozen residents who wear "Chill the Fill" T-shirts around town. "It's beautiful and it's historic. So why fill it in with dirt?"
The tunnel's supporters began circulating petitions and attending City Council meetings this spring. They started talking about how cities like Creede, Colo., and Hutchison, Kan., were converting their old mine shafts into museums. They organized flashlight tours through the Rochester subway until the city found out and put up "no trespassing" signs.
Supporters saidrefurbishing the tunnel could draw tourists, money and prestige to a city desperate for all three.
But the planhas enraged some residents and preservationists. They have started a campaign to stop the fill and force the City Council to consider preserving the tunnel and turning it into a museum, art gallery or a light-rail line.