Infrastructure Tourism: The Holland Tunnel


A Landmark of Modernity in SoHo

Did you know that New York City's Holland Tunnel is a National Historic Landmark? Photo credit: L. Tripoli

Did you know that New York City’s Holland Tunnel is a National Historic Landmark? Photo credit: L. Tripoli

As unlikely as anyone visiting the island of Manhattan is going there purely to experience the Holland Tunnel (which leads from Jersey City, N.J. to New York) and all the concomitant traffic-ridden pleasure such an experience can bring, a city’s infrastructure—even some of the less glamorous sorts—can be pretty interesting and informative. Consider, for instance, that tours of the sewer system in Paris are available, or that visitors have marveled at the aqueducts of Rome for eons. While a tourist in New York City might not seek out the Holland Tunnel unless as a necessity, a pedestrian cruising through SoHo on Varick Street—right by the tunnel’s entrance—between Broome and Watts Streets comes across a tiny little park, called Freeman Plaza East, and a little plaque with a bit of marvelous history of the Holland Tunnel. The tunnel is named for its chief engineer, who died before the tunnel was finished.

Avoid the crush of the street cars and marvel at the wonder of the tunnel, for which construction began back in the 1920s. The tunnel opened to traffic in 1927. Now, more than a million vehicles go through it every month. The tunnel was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1993 by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Freeman Plaza East, across from 104 Varick Street, New York, N.Y. 10013 between Broome and Watts Streets

—Lori Tripoli

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