Why New York's North River Tunnels were cursed from the beginning – IT'S HISTORY

Why New York's North River Tunnels were cursed from the beginning – IT'S HISTORY

The North River Tunnels are a pair of rail tunnels that carry Amtrak and New Jersey Transit lines under the Hudson River between Weehawken, New Jersey, and the Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan. Constructed in 1910, the North River Tunnels is a critical travel option for commuters on the New Jersey Transit and Amtrak’s busy Northeast Corridor line. These tunnels are active, they allow 24 crossings per hour each way and operate near capacity during peak hours. The tubes run parallel to each other underneath the Hudson River. Their centers are separated by 37 feet. The two tracks fan out to 21 tracks just west of Penn Station.

00:00 – Why the North River Tunnels is a critical travel option for commuters
01:11- The origin of the name “North River”
02:08- Why Crossing the Hudson River proved to be an obstacle.
03:11- When Albert Gallatin, issued his report of proposed locations for transportation of national importance.
04:29- PRR & The Long Island Rail Road Company, develop the New York Tunnel Extension Project.
04:52- The North River Tunnels was awarded to O’Rourke Engineering Construction Company.
06:16- The profoundly troubling issue of “The Behavior of the Subaqueous Tunnels.”
10:17- The incorporation of additional cast-iron plates in the North River Tunnel.
11:26- The North River Tunnel Opening in 1910.
12:54- ARC program was designed to restore public transportation NYC
14:33- How Superstorm Sandy damaged the North River Tunnels
15:53- The development of The Hudson Tunnel Project, which will rehabilitate the North River Tunnel.

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IT’S HISTORY – Weekly tales of American Urban Decay as presented by your host Ryan Socash.

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Scriptwriter – Camrin Dekis,
Editor – Kamil Krawiec,
Host – Ryan Socash


Some images may be used for illustrative purposes only – always reflecting the accurate time frame and content. Events of factual error / mispronounced word/spelling mistakes – retractions will be published in this section.


  1. Patrick Durham on July 28, 2023 at 3:00 pm

    The fact that something built from cast iron and concrete has lasted underground and underwater so long is amazing.

  2. Van Johnson on July 28, 2023 at 3:01 pm

    Most of the tunnels connecting new york too other Burroughs goes up to 5 miles deep in the city.amazing.oct2022.

  3. John Davies on July 28, 2023 at 3:03 pm

    Fascinating old photos and films of the construction work.

  4. P C on July 28, 2023 at 3:04 pm

    The Tunnels were lined with Waterproof Concrete. It wasn’t just ordinary Concrete. In those days, they waterproofed concrete by adding petroleum oil, water soluble soaps, clay, hydrated lime, alum, stearate of lime, and compounds of that nature. The leakages shown in the video, were not bleeding through the concrete, but through fissures in the concrete. If they didn’t waterproof the concrete back in 1906, the concrete liner would have long since collapsed.

    Today, they have synthetic compounds that are added to Concrete for it to be waterproof and water-resistant.

    Those tunnels aren’t cursed, they are Blessed. They were a magnificent Engineering accomplishment, that are carrying more traffic in their old age, than when they were in their prime. It was a great video with a poor title.

  5. Hiighway_Chile on July 28, 2023 at 3:05 pm

    And of course the useless government. Won’t get the fun for a replacement new tunnel because of bs ..the right palms(union heads,construction companies),etc have to get greased(reciece cash payments)first.

  6. mic vic on July 28, 2023 at 3:05 pm

    Hurricane Sandy sped these tunnels up to almost doomed status. Christie killed the plan dig another one due to the fact that he said New Jerseyans would be almost footing the bill from my understanding

  7. Richard Hetrick on July 28, 2023 at 3:06 pm

    To some one who lives out west and never traveled new York traffic problems nean nothing to them. Some of them think of New York city as money pit for their federal tax dollars. But they need NYC to sell their good beef lumber etc. . In wester new York state joke is see you tax dollars at work go to NYC. Can trains be made longer to haul more riders western amtrak rider don’t see importance of these tunnelswhen they don’t ride cross country but shorter rides not going to New York

  8. Jeffrey on July 28, 2023 at 3:06 pm

    Its ridiculous to think all those years, regular maintenence wasnt kept up on these tunnels. Smh

  9. Andy Saunders on July 28, 2023 at 3:06 pm

    I think I’d stay home, sorry.

  10. Stuart Lee on July 28, 2023 at 3:06 pm

    Keep it the way it is!
    It’ll keep all those greasy goombas in Joizey and other scum from coming into New York City and annoying us!!

  11. Bob Langan on July 28, 2023 at 3:08 pm

    Once again, the illiterate Ryan cannot pronounce simple words like Albany. This channel should be banned to stop harming children from ignorance.

  12. sinister is random on July 28, 2023 at 3:08 pm

    Given that we now have reverse-engineered roman concrete, it’s definitely possible that once refined, it will be used for projects of this caliber.

  13. Kyle Holton on July 28, 2023 at 3:08 pm

    If I had a nickel every time I got stuck….

  14. T Kelly on July 28, 2023 at 3:09 pm

    Let’s be clear about why Christie pulled the plug on the ARC tunnel project in 2010. His endlessly and loudly stated claim about the State of New Jersey being stuck with the tunnels’ cost overruns was always misleading and in fact a deceptive and fake excuse for killing a project which would be close to completion – if not finished by now. The record indisputably shows that Christie killed the ARC tunnel because he wanted to spend New Jersey’s share of it on rebuilding the Pulaski Skyway instead, all to avoid increasing the State’s paltry gasoline tax which would otherwise have been necessary to pay for rebuilding the Pulaski Skyway.

  15. Richard Chartrand on July 28, 2023 at 3:09 pm

    No consideration was given for curvature of the Earth because everyone back then with a brain knew it was FLAT

  16. Jesse Montano on July 28, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    Unclear funding issues?? It’s a democrat run city. All that’s needed to be said

  17. Lawrence May on July 28, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    The Mud? Same problem London had tunneling under the Thames.

  18. Frank Tedesco on July 28, 2023 at 3:12 pm

    Sub Sid e er ies. Not Sub SIder eries

  19. Thomas Foolery on July 28, 2023 at 3:15 pm

    Narration is poor, the narrator’s singsong delivery detracts, and the graphics and charts are almost useless.

  20. Joe Hughes on July 28, 2023 at 3:18 pm

    They should look bigger. 1 chunnel sized tunnel to fit side by side over side gy side rails. Or perhaps 3 rails and 1 cars. No interruption, 200% improvement, and no need for any remediation at all. You can only patch bandaids for so long. How many dollars worth of bandaids so far? Don’t just fix the problem, make a better future

  21. That One Guy on July 28, 2023 at 3:23 pm

    Soooo. All that time spent building this stupid tunnel and no one thought about adding some flood stops to each end? Tipical new york degenerates. You fools have had like 3 buildings just straight up collapse in 2 months yet expect them to actually fix anything?

  22. Spuds on July 28, 2023 at 3:25 pm

    "Rails to Gotham" is an awesome book about the building of tunnels under the Hudson.

  23. Brad Houser on July 28, 2023 at 3:27 pm

    As usual, a well-researched, in-depth documentary. I rode the train from Newark to Boston by myself when I was a kid in the ’60s, and I always remember going through the tunnel. There was one question I had. At 18:45 you said the segmented rings were 22 tons each. Was that one segment or an entire ring? Later you said they increased the weight to 11,000 lbs in reaction to the tunnel motion. Was that the segment itself? (PS: I never thanked you for no longer using the fake film scratches on your pictures. Thank You Ryan!)

  24. Shelium Org on July 28, 2023 at 3:32 pm

    JON LEVI and MICHELLE GIBSON provide entirely different aspect to all this, and more.

  25. Art Xbklyn on July 28, 2023 at 3:32 pm

    Had Governor Big-Mouth-Fat-Boy not gotten in the way the new tunnels would have already been operational. Thanks for your service.

  26. Lawrence May on July 28, 2023 at 3:36 pm

    How about a Documentary on the New York Sand Hogs

  27. Andrew Widman on July 28, 2023 at 3:37 pm

    so why is it cursed?

  28. Andre Newcomb on July 28, 2023 at 3:38 pm

    Money is NOT the problem. This is debt ceiling kind of stuff. Eminent priority.

  29. Anthony Whitehead on July 28, 2023 at 3:39 pm

    Why do you yell at the mic? Also do we REALY have free speech? you tub poped a suggestion box on how to comment on this video. Really?

  30. Bah on July 28, 2023 at 3:39 pm

    When you see the cost to repair these tunnels, you will see why they should be scrapped in favor of brand new tunnels.

  31. kiowa1508 on July 28, 2023 at 3:39 pm

    Of course…neither Chris Christie nor any members of his family will be in one of original tunnels when a catastrophic failure occurs. For a nation such as ours, this awful state of our infrastructure is unbelievably sad.

  32. Tom Fields on July 28, 2023 at 3:41 pm

    We love to build stuff in this country. Maintain it? Not so much!

  33. Jeff DeWitt on July 28, 2023 at 3:43 pm

    One of the more interesting things about this is that the tunnels were built by the PRR and private enterprise, and that they took safety so seriously. I think we lost more than we could afford when we lost the Pennsy and the New York Central.

    Those new tunnels would be a lot further along if it wasn’t for the infamous greed and corruption of New York and New Jersey’s politicians and unions.

  34. Tom Fields on July 28, 2023 at 3:45 pm

    Flex Seal guy: Slap some of this on there and it’ll keep out wooder forever!

  35. towringer on July 28, 2023 at 3:45 pm

    I hope that whatever new tunnels are constructed are tall enough to accommodate double decker rail cars. Such as the Auto Train and the Superliner cars on the Empire Builder, Southwest Chief & California Zephyr.

  36. papa bits on July 28, 2023 at 3:45 pm

    Nothing lasts forever, but these tunnels are pretty close.

  37. Brian on July 28, 2023 at 3:45 pm

    The Hudson River and the tide are a formidable force. I grew up on it and know it very well. I was down by the Bear Mountain Bridge a few years ago, it’s right around the corner from Indian Point. I was on my way home from a Lady Liberty run on my jet ski when a tug with no barge came by at full speed ahead! I couldn’t help myself from having a great time with that wave. The tide was going out, I messed up and got separated from my watercraft. Couldn’t catch up with it! The Coast Guard saved my butt and reunited me with my vessel. I’m so happy that the tug captain didn’t report me for being stupid! If they did, I could have been impounded and locked up facing big time fines btw! I’m a river rat for life, not caring about pcb contamination or the unexplained massive sized sturgeon I’ve encountered myself out there! Great video dude! I love learning more about my home turf and waters!

  38. Lawrence May on July 28, 2023 at 3:45 pm

    It’s cities like New York, LA, and Seattle, San Francisco drain our transportation budget and prevents other infrastructure like bridges, Dams and highways to be put on the back burner.

  39. Cats01 on July 28, 2023 at 3:49 pm

    Tunnels were built by the PRR with no handouts from any government. Now governments are going hat-in-hand to beg for money for new tunnels. If the tunnels are that important for NY Metropolitan Area commerce, let the beneficiaries of the tunnels (businesses in the area) foot the bill for the project. Why saddle already overburdened taxpayers with another cost?

  40. dosmastrify on July 28, 2023 at 3:49 pm

    1:20 those dutch. Always having things contributed to them.

  41. S&W Roading on July 28, 2023 at 3:49 pm

    You couldn’t get me to ride in either of those tunnels. Hopefully we will not have to wait until a catastrophic collapse occurs.

  42. Urban Yeti on July 28, 2023 at 3:52 pm

    Wonder how many miles of decommissioned and abandoned tunnel are under New York. I can’t even imagine.

  43. Mountain Man on July 28, 2023 at 3:52 pm

    First I’ve heard of "Tunnel Gate"

  44. SteamCrane on July 28, 2023 at 3:53 pm

    This is a nonissue. Since the covid shutdowns, people have discovered that there is no good reason to commute into NYC. Due to crime, filth, and taxes, anybody who can is out-migrating to other states. A better solution would be to turn Manhattan into a maximum security prison. You would then only need one tube, inbound, as nobody ever leaves.
    – Snake Plissken

  45. Anthony Alecca on July 28, 2023 at 3:54 pm

    3:44 Albany (All-Ben-ne)

  46. anthony gallo on July 28, 2023 at 3:54 pm

    Great video the plan to build new tunnels was floated for thr longest time, finally, the Federal Govt said they would pick up most of the tab. If NY and NJ came up with a small amount. Well NY said yes. And the fool of a Governor Chris Christi said no. And to tbis day we still dont have new tunnels. A other fact is both tubes were constructed with Iron floodgates just outside of penn. This was done for fear of a submarine attack on the tubes and to prevent the water from rushing in

  47. Mike Drown on July 28, 2023 at 3:55 pm

    Al Benny (Albany)😂😂😂

  48. nairbvel on July 28, 2023 at 3:56 pm

    So much U.S. infrastructure is reaping the results of decades of government (at multiple levels) deciding that if there wasn’t a crisis *right* *now* then it would be more "fiscally responsible" to wait until an actual disaster was imminent and then run around like headless chickens looking for even larger sums of money to try to avert those (sometimes already-in-progress) disasters. Great forward-looking planning, you guys. Really appreciate it.

  49. Ogauge Trains plus slot Cars on July 28, 2023 at 3:56 pm

    I’ve took New Jersey Transit Train under this tunnel many times.I never knew this .Dangerous rail tunnel

  50. marion cobaretti on July 28, 2023 at 3:56 pm

    Big dig in boston has weak concrete from corrupt people who watered down the concrete to skim profits. I’m not sure but I think there was 6 people involved. They spent over 2 yrs of pumping an epoxy in to the leaking areas of the concrete. Some day there is a catastrophe coming , many will perish in there cars . 20 billion dollars spent