Eighty years ago, New York City needed another tunnel under the Hudson River. The Holland Tunnel and the George Washington Bridge could no longer handle the mounting traffic between New Jersey and Manhattan. Thus began construction of the Lincoln Tunnel.
But this is not a story about the Lincoln Tunnel. This is about the men who made it. The Sandhogs.
“Sandhogs were the urban miners who worked on a variety of underground excavation projects in New York City. They worked in tight, small chambers that held back water and silt, and they breathed condensed air.
Digging a tunnel was not only uncomfortable, it was dangerous, and there was a high likelihood that workers could get decompression sickness — also known as the bends. In fact, during the construction of the Pennsylvania Railroad tunnels, the bends claimed the lives of fifty Sandhogs.
Still, this was during the Great Depression, when jobs were scarce. A job was a job. This radio story is a portrait of the Sandhogs that built City Water Tunnel #3, a project to add to the New York City water supply.
“Sandhogs” is part of producer Dan Collison’s American Workers series. Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister are Long Haul Productions. This might be my other favorite Long Haul piece, “The Lord God Bird” featuring Sufjan Stevens and a giant woodpecker once thought extinct.
- History of New York City Rapid Transit
A chronology of the history behind today’s underground subway system in New York City.
- New York City Subway Resources
News, events, maps, technology and history of the underground transportation system.
- Tunneling to the Future: The Story of the Great Subway Expansion That Saved New York
by Peter Derrick
Documents the importance of underground expansion due to the vast population of New York City
- The Building of Manhattan: How Manhattan Was Built Overground and Underground, from the Dutch Settlers to the Skyscrapers
by Donald A. MacKay
A detailed account of the growth of New York
Last week we had a repeat, and this week a nearly 20 year old documentary someone else made?
I feel like I just bought the most expensive shirt ever on kickstarter, because I can’t see my money being spent on content…
Poor show, Mr Mars.
Guy.. I’m not getting into an argument about this, but this was really good. Good show Roman
I like what this Lewis guy has to say. I like the way he thinks
A good show is a good show. This was a fascinating show regardless of when it was made.
@George. I’m not sure we can appreciate how much work goes into making an episode, the research, the recording and the editing. And of course the kickstarter also helped to fund other employees and their healthcare. Thank’s 99PI, you make the drive to work bearable. Even this American Life has reruns, sometimes even two weeks in a row!
Hello all, I’ve had some time to cool down now, and very rightly regret my negative comments. I have enjoyed all the previous podcasts and I should be thankful I have such a wealth of entertainment and education available to me for free.
Sorry to have come across as a grumpy old fool.
99PI listeners are the absolute sweetest people. Including (especially) you, George Sandeman.
Thanks Ms. Mingle. We are sweet (if I do say so myself), and apparently have the strength of character to apologize, publicly, which is rare speaks highly of one’s character.
Also, I really liked the show and I second Jack’s comments.
This is possibly the nicest turn of events possible. If only the rest of the internet was like this.
I love you guys.
Excellent show and great accents. Grittiness and determination of the sandhogs comes right through. Many thanks.
A fascinating episode, and a testament to both the need for unions and that bravery borne of necessity. Would love to hear a follow-up episode on the Sandhogs, (now) 21 years later.
Great episode and I am grateful to Roman for rebroadcasting it
I want to thank you for rebroadcasting this, my Grandfather is Stuart Williams, one of the men interviewed. He passed away almost 3 years ago and it was amazing to hear his voice. This interview really showed the type of man he was!
this was really good. Good show Roman
This podcast can’t be City Water Tunnel #3 – since it started building at the end of the 1900s. Could you be refering to City Water Tunnel #2?