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Crossing Under the Hudson

The Story of the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels

Angus Kress Gillespie

Publication Year: 2011

Crossing Under the Hudson takes a fresh look at the planning and construction of two key links in the transportation infrastructure of New York and New Jersey--the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels. Writing in an accessible style that incorporates historical accounts with a lively and entertaining approach, Angus Kress Gillespie explores these two monumental works of civil engineering and the public who embraced them. He describes and analyzes the building of the tunnels, introduces readers to the people who worked there--then and now--and places the structures into a meaningful cultural context with the music, art, literature, and motion pictures that these tunnels, engineering marvels of their day, have inspired over the years.

Today, when new concerns about global terrorism may trump bouts of simple tunnel tension, Gillespie's Crossing Under the Hudson continues to cast a light at the end of the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

I first got the idea to write about the two trans-Hudson vehicular tunnels back in the 1990s while doing the research for my book Twin Towers. I spent many days going through the archives of the Port Authority located in the executive offices of the World Trade Center. Particularly useful were the weekly reports ...

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pp. 1-8

In the epigraph above, Edith Wharton’s protagonist, Newton Archer, a gentleman lawyer of the late nineteenth century and scion of one of New York City’s best families, wonders about future inventions, including the possibility of a tunnel under the Hudson connecting New York to New Jersey. ...

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1. It Can’t Be Done: Planning for the Holland Tunnel

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pp. 9-20

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the civic leaders of New York City were worried about the future of the Port of New York. The city had always thought of itself as the continent’s center of commerce, but its status was slipping. Grain from the East Coast that was once shipped out of New York ...

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2. A Breath of Fresh Air: Building the Holland Tunnel

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pp. 21-46

One would have thought that once Clifford Holland had beaten down the mighty George Washington Goethals, hero of the Panama Canal project, the rest of the job would be easy. After all, the contract between the two states had been signed with provision for the construction, operation, repair, and maintenance of the tunnel.1 ...

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3. Winning Acceptance: Grand Opening of the Holland Tunnel

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pp. 47-56

Step by step, the Holland Tunnel was nearing completion after a long seven years of construction. People on both sides of the river anticipated the opening of the tunnel with enthusiasm and excitement. Contemporary newspaper accounts reflect the keen interest that readers had in something they had been reading about for years. ...

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4. Let’s Build Another One: Construction of the Lincoln Tunnel

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pp. 57-78

As we have seen, the Holland Tunnel, completed in the late 1920s, was both an engineering and a financial success. It was this good news that motivated civic leaders to press for the construction of a second vehicular tunnel under the Hudson River. Everyone was bedazzled by the momentum of progress. ...

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5. Law and Order: The Role of the Port Authority Police

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pp. 79-98

When the Holland Tunnel opened for business in 1927, the authorities realized that they would have to create some kind of a police force for which there was no precedent. They created the Holland Tunnel Police Department (HTPD), a separate entity belonging to neither New York City nor Jersey City. ...

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6. Road Hazards: Threats to Life and Property

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pp. 99-117

It’s only natural for us as human beings to worry about passing through any tunnel, let alone an underwater tunnel. We see that ominous black tunnel opening. We feel that the tunnel is too long and too dark. Some people even suffer from clinical tunnel phobia. They experience shortness of breath, palpitations, ...

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7. If You See Something, Say Something: Dealing with the Threat of Terrorism

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pp. 118-136

As we have seen, construction on the Holland Tunnel began in 1920 and on the Lincoln Tunnel in 1934. In those earlier and simpler days, protecting the tunnels against terrorist attacks was not a consideration. In the first few decades of the twentieth century, the United States seemed to be safe, ...

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8. Rush Hour Frustration: Dealing with Traffic Congestion

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pp. 137-157

A recurring theme in the American experience is our love of mobility, our love of the freedom of the open road. It’s an idea that can be traced from Walt Whitman’s iconic “Song of the Open Road,” first published in 1856, through Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road, first published in 1957. ...

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9. Tunneling Through the Arts: A Survey of Creative Endeavors

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pp. 158-177

Remember that iconic Saul Steinberg cartoon map on the cover of a 1976 issue of the New Yorker magazine? In the drawing, “The World as Seen from New York’s 9th Avenue,” the artist captured perfectly the hubris, the arrogance and ignorance, of New Yorkers. Steinberg has us looking west over Tenth Avenue ...

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10. The Light at the End of the Tunnel: The Future of the Tunnels

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pp. 178-186

For most of us as we approach lower Manhattan by way of the Holland Tunnel, the remarkable pioneering accomplishment of Clifford Holland is the last thing on our minds. We don’t feel admiration and wonder as much as annoyance at the bottleneck. We are not marveling at the fact that we are driving 94 miles ...


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pp. 187-204


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pp. 205-214

E-ISBN-13: 9780813550831
E-ISBN-10: 0813550831
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813550039

Page Count: 232
Illustrations: 19
Publication Year: 2011