The Holland Tunnel

November 13th Celebrates The Holland Tunnel

Today on “Days to Remember” we celebrate how the Holland Tunnel in New York opened to the public on November 13th 1927.

The tunnel, which runs under the Hudson River between New York City and Jersey City, New Jersey, had opened to traffic the week before, at the stroke of midnight on November 13. (Earlier that day, President Calvin Coolidge had ceremonially opened the tunnel from his yacht on the Potomac by turning the same key that had “opened” the Panama Canal in 1915.

Time called it “the golden lever of the Presidential telegraphic instrument,” which rang a giant brass bell at the tunnel’s entrances.) On that first day, 51,694 vehicles traveled through the tunnel.

Until its engineers could figure out a way to keep carbon monoxide out of the air, building an underground road for cars and trucks had been a foolishly dangerous idea.

It also explained the most significant thing about the tunnel: its sophisticated ventilation system. The Holland installed 84 ventilating fans in four 10 story buildings, two on each side of the Hudson. Part of them blow fresh air into the tunnel floor through vents; others suck vitiated air through ducts in the tunnel ceiling.

On the day the tunnel opened, the toll was 50 cents per car in both directions. In 1970, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey switched to one-way tolls. By 2009, the one-way toll was $8.

Today’s YouTube video presentation brought to you by user name NYV Media is short story about how the Holland was built. As we celebrate the debut of opening of the Holland Tunnel to the public on November 13th.

How did the Holland Tunnel get its historical name?

The tunnel began to transform itself in 1920 and completed in 1927, the tunnel is named after Clifford Milburn Holland (1883–1924), Chief Engineer on the project, who died before it was completed.

For centuries, passage across the lower Hudson River was possible only by ferry. The first tunnels to be bored below the Hudson River were the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad’s uptown and downtown tunnels; constructed in the first decade of the 20th century to link the major railroad terminals in New Jersey with Manhattan Island (they currently run PATH trains).

Horse drawn vehicles have always been banned from the tunnel. A few months before the tunnel’s opening, there were suggestions that pedestrians would be allowed to cross the tunnel if they paid a toll described as “not encouraging,” but no further mention of this was ever made.

In 1955 a very narrow one-man miniature electric car was developed and installed so policemen could patrol the full length of the tunnel from the catwalk on the side of the tunnel instead of having to walk it. By use of a swivel seat the policemen could drive the car in either direction.

Between 2003 and 2006, the fire protection system in both tunnels was modernized. Temporary fire extinguishers were located in alcoves along the tunnel walls while the water supply was turned off.

The Holland Tunnel was closed on October 29, 2012 as Hurricane Sandy approached. The tunnel, like many other New York City tunnels, was flooded by the high storm surge. It remained closed for several days, opening for buses only on November 2 and to all traffic on November 7.

As we celebrate the day The Holland Tunnel opened to the public on November 13th 1927, some eighty eight years ago.

Written & Designed by JD Mitchell


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