Highway under the Hudson: A History of the Holland Tunnel [NOOK Book]

Overview

Every year, more than thirty-three million vehicles traverse the Holland Tunnel, making their way to and from Jersey City and Lower Manhattan. From tourists to commuters, many cross the tunnel’s 1.6-mile corridor on a daily basis, and yet few know much about this amazing feat of early 20th-century engineering. How was it built, by whom, and at what cost? These and many other questions are answered in Highway Under the Hudson: A History of the Holland Tunnel, Robert W. Jackson’s fascinating story about this ...

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Highway under the Hudson: A History of the Holland Tunnel

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Overview

Every year, more than thirty-three million vehicles traverse the Holland Tunnel, making their way to and from Jersey City and Lower Manhattan. From tourists to commuters, many cross the tunnel’s 1.6-mile corridor on a daily basis, and yet few know much about this amazing feat of early 20th-century engineering. How was it built, by whom, and at what cost? These and many other questions are answered in Highway Under the Hudson: A History of the Holland Tunnel, Robert W. Jackson’s fascinating story about this seminal structure in the history of urban transportation.

Jackson explains the economic forces which led to the need for the tunnel, and details the extraordinary political and social politicking that took place on both sides of the Hudson River to finally enable its construction. He also introduces us to important figures in the tunnel´s history, such as New Jersey Governor Walter E. Edge, who, more than anyone else, made the dream of a tunnel a reality and George Washington Goethals (builder of the Panama Canal and namesake of the Goethals Bridge), the first chief engineer of the project.

Fully illustrated with more than 50 beautiful archival photographs and drawings, Jackson’s story of the Holland Tunnel is one of great human drama, with heroes and villains, that illustrates how great things are accomplished, and at what price.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Urban planner and National Park Service historian Jackson has documented historic bridges and highways in Texas, Iowa, and Pennsylvania. Now he offers exhaustive research on the creation of the Holland Tunnel, linking New York and New Jersey, the world’s longest underwater tunnel when it opened in 1927. The rise of automobile travel was a major factor. Earlier, railroad-owned ferries transported “almost all the city’s food and fuel.” It was the first tunnel with a ventilation system to combat motor-vehicular fumes and thus became a model for all later vehicular tunnels. Jackson covers events that necessitated a tunnel, including plans, reports, political conflicts, contracts, and seven years of construction. Profiles are presented of the young chief engineer, Clifford Holland, and other key figures. An outstanding chapter on the mostly immigrant sandhogs details the hazardous working conditions that led to injuries and deaths. Holland himself had a “complete mental breakdown” and died of heart failure two days before the tunnel was complete. Jackson has excavated a vast amount of information, bringing this authoritative history of a ground-breaking tunnel to life. 56 illus. (Dec.)
From the Publisher

"His vivid account features a colorful cast of characters...An important work chronicling a largely unsung American engineering feat...it remains a compelling story that serves as a dramatic reminder that government can accomplish great things that the private sector cannot."-Library Journal,

"Robert Jackson spent three-and-a-half years compiling a complete history on [the Holland Tunnel]...[he] delves into not only the history of this famous tunnel but the drama behind its construction, the people involved and the unique engineering that took place."-Linnea Covington,Our Town

"There is no comparable book on this tunnel. Highly recommended."-D. Brand,CHOICE

"Historian Jackson provides an excellent history of the Holland Tunnel's politics and planning, 1906-20; its construction, 1920-27; and its operations in the 1930s-40s. He describes in detail the self-serving politics and corruption, particularly of New Jersey's tunnel commissioners in the 1910s-20s... The volume includes photographs of politicians, engineers, and construction, but no tables. The references, bibliography, and index are excellent. There is no comparable book on this tunnel. Summing Up: Highly recommended."-Choice Reviews,

"When the Holland Tunnel opened in 1927, it was the world’s longest and largest vehicular tunnel and was distinguished by an innovative ventilation system. Until then, vehicles were ferried across the Hudson and were subject to the vicissitudes of ice and fog. In Highway under the Hudson: A History of the Holland Tunnel, Robert W. Jackson explores the tortured bistate bureaucratic and political prelude to the construction of the 1.6-mile underwater corridor, which, by the way, was named not for the region’s Dutch roots, but for the project’s first chief engineer, Clifford Holland of Brooklyn, who died at 41 of heart failure in a sanitarium while undergoing a tonsillectomy."-The New York Times,

Library Journal
Jackson (former historian, Historic American Engineering Record) provides the first in-depth history of the creation of this famous tunnel built in the 1920s, a monumental undertaking designed to facilitate moving people and goods under the Hudson River and still an essential passage between Manhattan and the rest of the country. His vivid account features a colorful cast of characters—from politicians to hundreds of engineers, businesspeople, local citizens, and especially the "sandhogs" who had the dangerous job of actually digging the tunnel. Jackson considers the real hero the tunnel's first chief engineer, Clifford Holland, who worked tirelessly for its completion against nearly insurmountable odds but died at age 41 before it opened. Fittingly, the tunnel was then named after him. Readers learn here of the extensive research that went into creating the tunnel's ventilation system, which successfully eliminated lethal exhaust gases, enabling the construction of future tunnels. VERDICT An important work chronicling a largely unsung American engineering feat. While the narrative occasionally gets lost in the factual "weeds," it remains a compelling story and serves as a dramatic reminder that government can accomplish great things that the private sector cannot. For all transportation and American urban history collections.—Richard Drezen, Brooklyn, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814745038
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 892,984
  • File size: 5 MB

Meet the Author

Robert W. Jackson is an urban planner and historian, and previously served as a historian for the Historic American Engineering Record, National Park Service, where he documented historic bridges and highways in Texas, Iowa and Pennsylvania. He holds a PhD in American Civilization from University of Texas, and is the author of Rails across the Mississippi: A History of the St. Louis Bridge. He currently lives in Austin, Texas.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 The Impetus 9

2 Vexing Questions 22

3 A Coal Famine 41

4 The Wedding Ring 63

5 A Controversy Acute and Personal 85

6 Political and Petty Tampering 102

7 Another Long and Costly Delay 117

8 A Tempest in a Teapot 132

9 The Sandhogs 149

10 The Holland Tunnel 165

11 One Work Complete 180

12 Fires, Blasts Rip Holland Tunnel 193

13 Built to Last Forever 211

Acknowledgments 225

Notes 227

Bibliography 253

Index 257

About the Author 266

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