Uptown Hudson Tubes

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Uptown Hudson Tubes
PATH junction.jpg
Junction in Jersey City at tubes' west end from a 1909 illustration
Location Hudson River
Coordinates 40°43′48″N 74°01′14″W / 40.7301°N 74.0205°W / 40.7301; -74.0205
System PATH
Start Christopher Street
End Hoboken Terminal
Constructed 1874-1906
Opened February 26, 1908
Traffic Railroad
Character Rapid transit
Design engineer Charles M. Jacobs
Length 5,500 ft (1,676 m)[1]
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrified 600 V DC Third rail
Tunnel clearance (?) diameter
Depth of tunnel below water level 101 ft (30.78 m) below river level
Depth of shipping channel above (?)
Uptown Hudson Tubes is located in New York City
Uptown Hudson Tubes
Uptown Hudson Tubes

The Uptown Hudson Tubes are a pair of tunnels that carry PATH trains under the Hudson River between Greenwich Village in New York City, New York and Jersey City, New Jersey. The tubes do not actually enter Uptown Manhattan.

On the Manhattan side, the tunnels follow Morton Street and Christopher Street, and the first PATH stop in New York is Christopher Street. The service in New York continues uptown to the 33rd Street terminal. On the Jersey City side, the tunnels leave the riverbank approximately parallel to 15th Street and enter a flying junction where trains can proceed to either Hoboken or Newport.


Initial construction attempts[edit]

In 1873 a wealthy Californian Dewitt Clinton Haskin formed the Hudson Tunnel Company to construct a tunnel under the Hudson River from Jersey City to Manhattan.[2][3] At the time constructing a tunnel under the mile-wide river was considered less expensive than trying to build a bridge over it. An initial attempt to construct the tunnels began in November 1874 from the Jersey City side.[3] Work continued only until December 15, 1874, when progress was stopped by a court injunction brought about by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad. Due to the lawsuit work on the tunnels was not resumed until September 1879.[4]

The construction method in use at the time omitted the use of a tunneling shield but did use air compressors to maintain pressure against the water laden silt that was being tunneled through. Unfortunately, the pressure needed to hold back the water pressure at the bottom of the tube was much greater than the pressure needed to hold back the water at the top of the tube. In July 1880 an overpressure blowout at the tube top caused an accident that resulted in an air lock jam that trapped several workers. Twenty people died as a result of the accident.[2][5] The liabilities incurred as a result of the accident meant that tunnel work was again stopped on November 5, 1882, since the company had run out of money. At that time water was allowed to fill the unfinished tunnel. On March 20, 1883 the air and compressors were turned back on and the tunnel was drained for a resumption of work. Work continued for the next four months when on July 20, 1883 it was stopped once more due to lack of funds.[6]

In 1888 a British company that employed James Henry Greathead as a consulting engineer attempted to resume work on the Hudson tubes, but they too were unsuccessful in completing them and were also out of funds by 1891.[7]

Completion of construction[edit]

In 1902 a newly formed New York and Jersey Tunnel Company was organized under the leadership of a Tennessean named William Gibbs McAdoo. The new effort, led by chief engineer Charles M. Jacobs, employed a different method of tunneling using tubular cast iron plating and a tunneling shield at the excavation workface. The large mechanically jacked shield was pushed through the silt at the bottom of the river. The excavated mud would be carted away to the surface using battery-operated electric locomotives. In some cases, the silt would be baked with kerosene torches to facilitate easier removal of the mud. The southernmost tunnel of the uptown pair, as well as the downtown tunnels, were all constructed using the tubular cast iron and tunneling shield method.

In 1906, after almost 33 years of intermittent effort, the Hudson Tubes were completed and were celebrated as the first non-waterborne link between Manhattan and New Jersey.[8] Work continued on construction of the downtown tubes and finishing off the interior of the uptown tubes. The finish work included the completion of a concrete lining as well as laying rail tracks and electric power service, and took an additional two years to complete.

The tunnels are separate for each track, which enables better ventilation by the so-called piston effect. When a train passes through the tunnel it pushes out the air in front of it toward the closest ventilation shaft, and also pulls air into the rail tunnel from the closest ventilation shaft behind it. Test runs of trains without passengers started through the tunnels in 1907.

Service begins[edit]

The Hudson and Manhattan Railroad Company was formed to run passenger service through the tunnel pair. Service in the uptown pair started between Hoboken and 19th Street in Manhattan at midnight on February 26, 1908. On July 19, 1909, service began between Lower Manhattan and Jersey City, through the downtown tubes, located about 1 14 miles (2.0 km) south of the first pair. After the completion of the uptown Manhattan extension to 33rd Street and the westward extension to Newark and the now-defunct Manhattan Transfer in 1911, the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad was considered to be complete. The cost of the entire project was estimated at between $55 and $60 million, equal to more than $1 billion in 2008 dollars.[9][10]


The uptown and downtown Hudson tubes were declared National Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks in 1978 by the American Society of Civil Engineers.[11] The coal-fired Hudson and Manhattan Railroad Powerhouse was built 1906—1908 and generated electricity to run the Hudson tube trains. The powerhouse stopped generating in 1929. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 23, 2001.[12][13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Burr 1885, p.11.
  2. ^ a b Jacobs and Neville 1968, p.107.
  3. ^ a b Burr 1885, p.14.
  4. ^ Burr 1885, pp.14-15.
  5. ^ Fitzherbert, Anthony (June 1964). ""The Public Be Pleased": William G. McAdoo and the Hudson Tubes". nycsubway.org. Electric Railroaders Association. Retrieved 2009-03-14. 
  6. ^ Burr 1885, p.67.
  7. ^ Jacobs and Neville 1968, pp.107-108.
  8. ^ Jacobs and Neville 1968, p.132.
  9. ^ Shar, Robert Associate Professor. "Consumer Price Index (CPI) Conversion Factors 1774 to estimated 2018 to Convert to Dollars of 2008" (PDF). Oregon State University. 
  10. ^ "Calculate CPI from 1665-2012". 
  11. ^ "History and Heritage of Civil Engineering: Hudson and Manhattan Railroad Tunnel". American Society of Civil Engineers. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  12. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Listings November 30, 2001". Retrieved 2009-03-19. 
  13. ^ Karnoutsos, Carmela (2002). "Hudson & Manhattan Railroad Powerhouse". New Jersey City University. Retrieved 2008-11-28. 


External links[edit]