Queens Midtown Tunnel Construction
Aluminum Trays, New York: c. 1939
Queens Midtown Tunnel Construction Tray

Queens Midtown Tunnel: Holed Thru Nov. 8, 1939

Detail of tray

[Scenes of Rail, Bridge and Highway Construction]

Detail of tray

Detail of Queens Midtown Tunnel tray

Detail of tray

Detail of Queens Midtown Tunnel tray

Detail of tray

Detail of Queens Midtown Tunnel tray

Detail of tray

Detail of Rail, Bridge and Highway tray

Walsh Construction Company
Queens Midtown Tunnel: Holed Thru Nov. 8, 1939
New York: c. 1939
Aluminum engraved tray with wooden handles
10.75 x 18.5 inches

Walsh Construction Company (attributed to)
[Scenes of Rail, Bridge and Highway Construction]
New York: c. 1939
Aluminum engraved tray with enamel decorated handle
10.25 x 17.5 inches including handles

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Two unusual engraved serving trays commemorating major New York City transit projects.  One celebrates the day the Queens Midtown Tunnel was “holed thru” in 1939 with a cutaway drawing of the work in progress.  The other, undated and untitled, shows various scenes of rail, bridge and highway construction.  The bridge, top center, might be the East River Suspension Span of the Triborough Bridge, which opened in 1936.  One tray bears the name of Walsh Construction Company, a prominent builder of large transit projects, which suggests that both trays were commissioned by the firm to present as promotional or thank-you gifts.

The Queens Midtown Tunnel was the first vehicular tunnel under the East River and presented difficult design and construction challenges to the engineers due to its size and the terrain. The Walsh Construction Company received a $31 million contract for the project.  The project was “holed through” ahead of schedule on November 8, 1939, after 28 months of work, and despite the dangers, no workers died from the bends.

The Walsh Construction Company was founded at the turn of the 20th century in Davenport, Iowa, and was one of the pre-eminent major construction companies, completing bridges, tunnels, canals, railroads, dams and buildings.

References:

“Papers of the Walsh Construction Company.”  University of Iowa Library Special Collections Department.  2003.  http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/spec-coll/MSC/ToMsc100/MsC53/walshconstruction.htm (31 July 2008).

Tam, Joe G.  “The Influence of Geology on the Construction of the Queens Midtown Tunnel, New York.”  4 December 1998.  University of California, Berkeley.  http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~tamjo/queens/queenst.doc (31 July 2008).


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