1920s |

Time Magazine Features The Holland Tunnel On Its Cover – 11/20/1927

Time magazine makes the decision to feature the week-old Holland Tunnel on November 21st, 1927 on its cover. The tunnel runs beneath the Hudson River between Jersey City, New Jersey and New York City while the week before opened up to traffic at midnight on November 13th. President Calvin Coolidge had ceremonially opened, earlier that day, the tunnel from his yacht on the Potomac by using the original key that had “opened” the Panama Canal in 1915 by turning it. 

Time named it “the golden lever of the Presidential telegraphic instrument” that at the tunnel’s entrances rang a huge brass bell. The tunnel recorded 51, 694 vehicles traveled through the tunnel on the first day it was opened.

The tunnel’s important stats were posted in Time such as the cost being $48.4 million, the total length said to be “the longest of its kind in the world” measured at 9,250 feet, excavation measured as being 500,000 cubic yards of rock and soil, the river length underneath is 5,480 feet as well as the yearly and hourly vehicle capacity respectively being 15,000,000 and 3,800. Also, the article pointed out the most unique thing regarding the tunnel was a ventilation system that was sophisticated.

Obviously, this was extremely important to have as it would be a foolish and deadly idea to build an underground road for trucks and cars if the there wasn’t a way to refrain from carbon monoxide existing in the air by the engineers. Fortunately, a group of scientists from the Bureau of Mines, Yale and the University of Illinois determined that the air could be deadly when four parts of the lethal gas reaches 10,000; therefore, the recommendation was to create a two-duct ventilation system by the tunnel’s engineers so that anyone in the tunnel would be provided to breathe in fresh air.

Time described in the article that “To prevent disaster absolutely Chief Engineer 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. Thus they change the tunnel air completely 42 times an hour and but 56 of the fans are needed to do so.” However, 28 of these fans would be in stand-by in case of an emergency. The amount of time then and presently for the air to be replaced with fresh air throughout the tunnel is roughly 90 seconds.

Sadly, one thing that has changed over the decades is the price of the tolls. When the tunnel originally opened, the amount for the toll in both directions per car was 50 cents. The Port Authority of New Jersey and New York made the change from the toll being charged for both directions to one-way tolls in 1970. Decades later, the price for tolls increased and had reached $8 for a one-way toll by 2009.

Share On Facebook

Mark Hinderberg


Retired History Professor at Vanderbilt University. Love taking a portal through time and sharing my knowledge with anyone else who loves reading about history. It is my passion and my greatest hobby.