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Guide to Holland Tunnel Construction Photographs and Reports
1917-1949 (bulk, 1919-1926)
 PR 332

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Larry Weimer

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on July 31, 2017 using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

 
Creator: New Jersey Interstate Bridge and Tunnel Commission.
Title: Holland Tunnel construction photographs and reports
Dates: 1917-1949 (bulk, 1919-1926)
Abstract: The collection includes about 200 photographs and 20 reports and other print matter related to the construction of the Holland Tunnel, which is open to vehicular traffic and runs beneath the Hudson River between New Jersey and New York City. Exterior photographs primarily concern the construction sites at Canal Street in Manhattan and at Jersey City. Interiors primarily include the north and south tunnels, shafts, shields, working chambers, various structural details, and men working on the project. The print matter includes the annual reports of the New Jersey Interstate Bridge & Tunnel Commission to the Senate & General Assembly of New Jersey for the years 1920-1927, the comparable reports from the New York state commission for 1920 and 1921, information for potential bidders for some contracts, and other documents.
Quantity: 2.0 Linear feet in four document boxes and one flat file folder
Call Phrase: PR 332

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Biographical/Historical Note

The Holland Tunnel runs beneath the Hudson River, connecting New Jersey (at Jersey City) and New York City (at lower Manhattan). An initial amount of funding was appropriated in 1919 to begin preparations for construction, which began in 1922. The tunnel was opened in 1927 and completed in 1929. As a bi-state project, construction was overseen by both the New York State Bridge & Tunnel Commission and the New Jersey Interstate Bridge & Tunnel Commission. The documents in this collection appear to have been compiled by one of the officers of the New Jersey Commission, Edward Morgan Barradale. Barradale was named the New Jersey Commission’s Assistant Secretary in its earliest months in 1919, and in the mid-1920s he became its Secretary.

The tunnel was originally known as the Hudson River Vehicular Tunnel. The name was changed in November 1924 in honor of Clifford M. Holland, the tunnel’s first Chief Engineer, who had died of a heart attack that year. The tunnel extends about 1.6 miles. It comprises two “tubes,” each with two lanes. Although traffic runs eastbound in one tube and westbound in the other, the tubes are referred to in this collection more directly as the north and south tunnels. The tunnel was the first vehicular tunnel to be built under the Hudson River and involved the use of caissons as the tunnels were mined. One of the major engineering challenges the project resolved was that of supplying adequate ventilation to remove the massive amounts of carbon monoxide generated by cars in the tunnel.

(The above note is based on information from the Wikipedia entry for the Holland Tunnel, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s website, and documents from the collection.)

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Scope and Contents note

The collection includes about 200 photographs and 20 reports and other print matter related to the construction of the Holland Tunnel. There is also a CD provided by the donor of digital images of the photographs and duplicate copies of some of the reports.

The photographs include a combination of interior and exterior views. Exterior views are generally from construction sites at the west end of Canal Street in Manhattan and at the Jersey City tunnel approaches. Some of the exteriors include the river shaft caissons in dry dock and at their launch and positioning in the Hudson River. Interiors include the north and south tunnels, shafts, shields, working chambers, and various structural details. Most of the photographs are captioned and dated, and these are summarized in the folder level notes below in the container list. Some of the photographs include images of the “sandhogs” (i.e., workers doing the mining) and other laborers, some of whom appear to be African-American.

The bulk of the photographs portray the construction and site, and date from 1920 to 1926. There are also several photographs of other aspects of the project, including celebratory events and people other than laborers. These include portraits of Chief Engineer Clifford Holland, New Jersey Interstate Bridge & Tunnel Commission Secretary E.M. Barradale, and others. These events and people are not always identified. These photographs, where dated, range from 1919 to 1946.

Much of the print matter includes the annual reports of the New Jersey Interstate Bridge & Tunnel Commission to the Senate & General Assembly of New Jersey for the years 1920-1927. Two of these reports (1920 and 1923) are in their original typed manuscript form; the others are in their published form. There are only two reports from the New York State Commission; those are for 1920 and 1921. Among other print matter is the 1917 Report to the Executive Committee of Public Service Corporation of New Jersey on the Proposed Vehicular Tunnel Between the Cities of Jersey City and New York; printed booklets concerning four of the project’s contracts (detailed below in the container list); and a 1922 memorandum from Clifford Holland on the arrangement of the tunnel plaza in Jersey City.

Arrangement Note

The collection is organized first by format, opening with photographs and followed by print matter.

Most of the photographs are numbered and they are arranged in numerical order, which generally follows how they were presented by the donor. Photographs with no number follow those numbered. Although the numbers range from 0144 to 16259, there are many large gaps in the range. It is not known if these numbers ever formed a single sequence.

The print matter is generally arranged by title.

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Access Points

Document Type

  • Annual reports
  • Photographs
  • Specifications

Subject Organizations

  • New Jersey Interstate Bridge and Tunnel Commission.
  • New York State Bridge and Tunnel Commission.

Subject Topics

  • Caissons
  • Tunneling
  • Tunnels -- Design and construction
  • Tunnels -- New Jersey
  • Tunnels -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Holland Tunnel (Jersey City, N.J., and New York, N.Y.)

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers. Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to twenty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. See guidelines in Print Room for details.

Use Restrictions

Permission to reproduce any Print Room holdings through publication must be obtained from: Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West New York, NY 10024. Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 270. Fax: (212) 579-8794.

Preferred Citation Note

This collection should be cited as Holland Tunnel construction photographs and reports, PR 332, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, New-York Historical Society.

Credit Line: Family of Edward Morgan Barradale.

Immediate Source of Acquisition Note

Gift of Caroline W. Jacobus, November 2016, a descendant of Edward Morgan Barradale, an officer of the New Jersey Interstate Bridge and Tunnel Commission in the 1920s.

Processing Information Note

Processed by archivist Larry Weimer in July 2017.

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Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Photographs. 0144-0422

Scope and Contents Note

Includes photos related to Contracts #3 and #4: river shaft caissons in dry dock at Staten Island Shipbuilding Co., launching of caissons, full size section of tunnel with graphic illustration, rendering of drawing of operation of sinking the caisson, aerial of New York tunnel site made by Fairchild Aerial Camera Corp.

1922-1923
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Photographs. 0514-0537

Scope and Contents Note

Includes photos of drawing of tunnel's concrete lining at different steps in placing and of models of the New Jersey approach to the tunnel from different angles.

1924
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Photographs. 2301-3203

Scope and Contents Note

Includes Contract #5 inspection party in North Tunnel at Spring St., New York Telephone Co. cables at Canal & Hudson streets, first truck to enter North Tunnel; unidentified portions of tunnel; inspection party of New Jersey commissioners and guests.

1924-1925
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Photographs. 5026-5330

Scope and Contents Note

Includes photos related to Contract #1, including street and sidewalk views of Canal Street, Canal Street Park, work at Canal and West streets, Canal Street caisson and shaft, Spring Street caisson and shaft.

1920-1921
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Photographs. 5353-5549

Scope and Contents Note

Includes photos related to Contract #3, including Canal Street shaft and shield, street views of Canal Street, frame for power house, site of accident involving miners helper James Hunt, Spring Street shaft and shield, conditions contributing to injury to Inspector Blakeslee, sandhogs (i.e., workers) gathering and going into a man-lock, vitiated air ducts, tunnel views, steel forms, inspection party in North Tunnel west of Spring Street shaft, turbines.

1922-1925
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Photographs. 6102-6159

Scope and Contents Note

Includes photos related to Contract #3, including sewage treatment plant excavation, South Tunnel shield, men in work chamber of the river shaft caisson, protection concrete of bottom of caisson, men standing on tunnel shield, South Tunnel after flooding of 3 April 1924.

1922-1924
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Photographs. 6178-6197

Scope and Contents Note

Includes photos related to Contract #13, including construction of river ventilation building.

1926
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Photographs. 7014-8012

Scope and Contents Note

Includes photos related to Contract #4, including North Tunnel closure ring, three men tightening a tunnel bolt, concreting methods, steel pile segments. Also view of the Huson River Day Line steamer "Washington Irving" sinking after being rammed by a Standard Oil tanker on 1 June 1926.

1925-1926
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Photographs. 9024-9101

Scope and Contents Note

Includes photos from the New Jersey side of the work, related to Contract #4, including pilings, gantry, storage, tunnel views, shields, construction details, cross-passage between shafts, constructing inverts, concreting arch form, new Erie Pier 9.

1922-1926
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Photographs. 10001-10329

Scope and Contents Note

Includes a 1919 photo of a land boring in New Jersey Erie railroad yard and undated (1919?) groundbreaking. Includes photos from the New Jersey side of the work, related to Contract #4, including land shaft caissons (interior and exteriors), working chamber of shaft, shields, excavation and timbering for air duct. Includes photos from the New Jersey side of the work, related to Contract #6, including caissons at land ventilating building, steel sewers in Jersey City, and new Erie Pier 9.

1919, 1922-1926
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Photographs. 11002-14153

Scope and Contents Note

Includes aerial of proposed New Jersey exit (1920), land level view of N.J. exit site (1921), Contract #6 tunnel progress in Jersey City (1925), Union Terminal Cold Storage Plant in Jersey City (1920), Contract #4 air supply pipes in Jersey City (1922), and preparation for moving of Salvation Army building from Jersey City exit plaza (1926).

1920-1926
Box: 1 Folder : 12 Photographs. 16175-16259

Scope and Contents Note

Includes photos taken on 6 September 1920 at an unidentified location, possibly Jersey City or Hoboken, and photos taken on 14 September 1920 of Canal Street Park.

1920 September
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Photographs. No number

Scope and Contents Note

Includes tunnel interior, partially tiled, with rail track; a tugboat pulling a caisson into the river; ducts and other equipment at Urbana, Illinois (1922); Canal Street shaft taken by Clyde Iron Works Sales Co. (1923); turbines, buildings, and site view at Canal and West streets.

1920s
Box: 1 Folder : 14 Photographs. Clifford Holland

Scope and Contents Note

Includes three photos removed from their frames, identified on the backing of the frames as images of Chief Engineer Clifford Holland.

undated
Box: 1 Folder : 15 Photographs. Individuals & Groups

Scope and Contents Note

Includes photographs of individuals and groups of people, including E.M. Barradale, gentlemen at a signing event (25 September 1919), inspection party(?) at tunnel entrance, dinner event, group (28 October 1939), group at signing of S-25 Equalization Bill (11 April 1946).

1919-1946
Box: 1 Folder : 16 Photographs. Digital Copies on CD

Scope and Contents Note

Includes digital images included by the donor.

Undated
Drawer: Flat File Photographs. Flat File

Scope and Contents Note

Includes two oversize images: photograph of unidentified group of gentlemen in posed portrait and print of the plaque commemorating the opening of the tunnel.

1920s
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Report to the Executive Committee of Public Service Corporation of New Jersey on the Proposed Vehicular Tunnel Between the Cities of Jersey City and New York
1917 March
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Hudson River Vehicular Tunnel Contract No. 1. Canal Street Shaft & Spring Street Shaft, Manhattan. Invitation and Information for Contractors
1920
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Hudson River Vehicular Tunnel Contract No. 1. Canal Street Shaft & Spring Street Shaft, Manhattan. Contract Drawings 1 to 18
1920
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Hudson River Vehicular Tunnel Contract No. 2. North Land Shaft & South Land Shaft, Jersey City. Invitation and Information for Contractors
1921
Box: 2 Folder : 5 Hudson River Vehicular Tunnel Contract No. 2. North Land Shaft & South Land Shaft, Jersey City. Contract Drawings 1 to 11
1921
Box: 2 Folder : 6 Contract between the New York State Bridge and Tunnel Commission, New Jersey Interstate Bridge and Tunnel Commission, Erie Railroad Company, and The Long Dock Company
1921 December 7
Box: 2 Folder : 7 The Holland Tunnel. Contract No. 17. Administration Building, New York
1926
Box: 2 Folder : 8 The Holland Tunnel. Contract No. 17. Administration Building, New York. Contract Drawings 1 to 35
1926
Box: 2 Folder : 9 Report of the New Jersey Interstate Bridge & Tunnel Commission to the Senate & General Assembly of New Jersey

Scope and Contents Note

Includes a typed manuscript form of the report, which includes the Report of the Chief Engineer as Appendix B. Includes loose reports found with the report, including portions of an "Analysis of Cast-Iron Tunnel Sections."

1920 March 17
Box: 2 Folder : 10 Report of the Chief Engineer

Scope and Contents Note

Includes a 1922 memo from Clifford Holland found with the report with the subject "Plaza Arrangement: Jersey City."

1921-1922
Box: 3 Folder : 1 Report of the New York State Bridge & Tunnel Commission
1920
Box: 3 Folder : 2 Report of the New York State Bridge & Tunnel Commission
1921
Box: 3 Folder : 3 Report of the New Jersey Interstate Bridge & Tunnel Commission
1920
Box: 3 Folder : 4 Report of the New Jersey Interstate Bridge & Tunnel Commission
1921
Box: 3 Folder : 5 Report of the New Jersey Interstate Bridge & Tunnel Commission
1922
Box: 3 Folder : 6 Report of the New Jersey Interstate Bridge & Tunnel Commission

Scope and Contents Note

This is a typed, manuscript version of the report.

1923
Box: 3 Folder : 7 Report of the New Jersey Interstate Bridge & Tunnel Commission
1924
Box: 3 Folder : 8 Report of the New Jersey Interstate Bridge & Tunnel Commission
1925
Box: 3 Folder : 9 Report of the New Jersey Interstate Bridge & Tunnel Commission
1926
Box: 3 Folder : 10 Report of the New Jersey Interstate Bridge & Tunnel Commission
1927
Box: 4 Item : 1-2 Duplicate Copies of the New York Reports
1920-1921
Box: 4 Item : 3-7 Duplicate Copies of the New Jersey Reports
1920-1921

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