Did you know that until 1910, rail passengers traveling to New York City from points west had to disembark in Jersey City, New Jersey, and take ferries across the Hudson River for the final leg of their journey?
“The Rise and Fall of Penn Station,” part of the PBS series American Experience, chronicles the groundbreaking construction of tunnels underneath the Hudson and East rivers and one of the architectural marvels of its time. The documentary, released in February 2014, is available via PBS, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, etc. Here’s a preview:
It’s fascinating now to see the success tunnelers back then achieved with comparatively “primitive” techniques and technology. From both sides of the Hudson River, workers excavated material by hand, carting them away using donkeys, and moved shields inch by inch along the route. When the two tunnels finally met in the middle, they were off by a mere 1/16th of an inch.
Sadly, the original building was demolished in the 1960s, but the project’s legacy endures.