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Lincoln Tunnel


LINCOLN TUNNEL. Linking midtown Manhattan (at West Thirty-Ninth Street) and central New Jersey (in Weehawken), the Lincoln Tunnel provided a key element

for the mid-twentieth-century expansion of the inter-state metropolitan region centered in New York City. New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia and powerful political leader Robert Moses identified the project as part of a regional development plan and as a depression-era source of employment. By allowing for more car and bus traffic, the Lincoln Tunnel (along with the Holland Tunnel, opened in 1927, and the George Washington Bridge, opened in 1931) reduced residents' dependency on commuter railroads and ferries and promoted the automobile as a central factor in the region's growth.

Construction of the first tube of the three-tube tunnel under the Hudson River began on 17 May 1934. Workers confronted claustrophobic and dangerous conditions, including floods and high pressures in a work zone as deep as ninety-seven feet below the river's surface. The first tube opened on 22 December 1937. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey responded to increasing traffic by opening a second tunnel in 1945 and a third in 1957. The total cost of the structure reached $75 million. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Port Authority reported that nearly 21 million vehicles used the tunnel annually, making it the busiest vehicular tunnel in the world.


Caro, Robert A. The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York. New York: Knopf, 1974.

Lankevich, George J. American Metropolis: A History of New York City. New York: New York University Press, 1998.

Sarah S.Marcus

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