Seven years before construction of the Holland Tunnel commenced in 1920, the New York State Bridge and Tunnel Commission and the New Jersey Interstate Bridge and Tunnel Commission decided that constructing a tunnel was their only option to connect New Jersey to New York City. Building a bridge would not be possible feasible because New York’s elevation did not meet the 200-foot bridge height clearance for ships to use it. Using a twin-tube design created by Clifford Holland, the dual coalition named him the chief engineer of the tunnel. From here, he became the tunnel’s namesake. Today, commuters and weekend travelers are perhaps all too familiar with the Holland Tunnel. Yet they may not know its secrets. Here are the top 10 secrets of the Holland Tunnel!
1. President Coolidge officially opened the tunnel from a yacht
From his Mayflower yacht in the Potomac River, President Calvin Coolidge opened the Holland Tunnel from a distance at 4:55 pm on November 13, 1927. He turned a gold telegraph key typically used to send Morse code, which separated two American flags at the entrance of the Holland Tunnel.
United States Presidents were often remotely involved in the opening ceremonies of important construction during this era. In 1931, President Herbert Hoover “turned on” the lights to the Empire State Building from his desk in Washington D.C. President Woodrow Wilson also used the same key used by President Calvin Coolidge to detonate the last blast in the construction of the Panama Canal as well.