4. Clifford Holland

Holland Tunnel Entrance

The Holland Tunnel which connects Manhattan to New Jersey was named after engineer Clifford Holland. The day he graduated from Havard in 1906 with a degree in civil engineering, Holland also started his job as an assistant engineer for the City of New York. For years, he worked on the first subway tunnels and moved up to become the engineer-in-charge of four subway tunnels under the East River. It was crossing the Hudson however, that would make his name famous.

Multiple plans were proposed for a Hudson River crossing but it was Holland’s dual-tube design that was selected over the rest (including a plan by Goethals). Holland was unanimously named chief engineer of the project in 1919. A state-of-the-art ventilation system that made the air inside the tunnel breathable, despite the vehicle exhaust, is what made Holland’s design so special. It was sadly Holland’s dedication to the project that ultimately led to his early death, at the age of 41, due to a heart attack. He died just two days before the New York and New Jersey crews were set to “hole through,” or meet in the middle of the tunnel. The celebration was canceled out of respect for Holland and the name of the bridge was changed from the Hudson River Vehicular Tunnel to the Holland Tunnel.