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Caution Optional » Blog Archive » NYC Subways

NYC Subways

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Just one of the fascinating accounts of the dangers of subway construction at the turn of the century:

    “The first accident occurred in 1905 during the construction of the Battery-Joralemon street tunnel of the first subway. As frequently happens, a “blow-out” took place. That is, the compressed air found a weak spot in the roof of the tunnel and began escaping. In such cases the usual treatment is for the men in the tunnel to heave bags of sand or clay into the vortex and thus stop the leak. On this occasion Dick Creedon, a workman employed by the contractor, attempted to plug the air hole with a bag of sand. The pressure of the air was so strong, however, that the “blow-out” sucked both bag and man into the vortex and forced them through thirty feet of sand and silt up into the waters of the river. On reaching the surface Creedon began swimming and was soon picked up by a boat, apparently none the worse for his marvelous experience. The “blow-out” was repaired by dumping tons of sand from scows immediately over the break.”

Holy crap!! When I would have a ‘blow out’ at work, it usually had something to do with the secretary not specifying “no MSG” on my lunch order. These poor bastards would come home with river mud crammed into every orifice, missing a couple of fingers and were probably ticked off that the foreman docked them three hours pay for when they were floating in the river unconscious not working.

Lots of very interesting early 20th century infrastructure stuff on this site. Definitely worth a look-see.

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