4. There Was a Deadly Fire in the Holland Tunnel

The New York Holland Tunnel emergency truck.
The New York Holland Tunnel emergency truck. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

Even though it was illegal to transport some hazardous material through the tunnel. a truck loaded with carbon disulfide drove into the Holland Tunnel in 1949. Carbon disulfide is a colorless liquid that can cause dizziness, poor sleep, headache, anxiety, anorexia, weight loss, and vision changes — it is also highly flammable. One of its eighty 55-gallon drums fell off and broke open, emitting vapors that caught fire when coming in contact with the ground.

The fire caused 66 injuries, two deaths, and approximately $600,000 worth of damage to the south tube of the tunnel. The Port Authority then adopted strict rules to prevent such an accident from occurring again. Needless to say, throughout the 1949 fire, the tunnel’s famous ventilation system was at full capacity.