Highway Under the Hudson: A History of the Holland Tunnel

Robert W. Jackson. New York Univ, $29.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-8147-4299-0
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.)
Reviewed on: 10/10/2011
Release date: 12/01/2011
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