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Boston's finest hand-crafted tunnel

Digging a tunnel under Boston Harbor for a trolley line

Back at the start of the 20th century, boring a tunnel took a lot of hard, manual labor - you still needed big, burly men to hack away at the rock. The BPL has three sketches of men at work digging a tunnel for a trolley line between downtown Boston and Maverick Square - what eventually became the Blue Line (the link will also take you to some photos).

At the end of the tunnel, men had to work to make it even longer. The tunnel was deep enough to require an airlock to ward off the bends.

The top sketch appears to be of men working with this "roof shield:" (source, click on "page"):

The $3.2-million tunnel opened in 1904 - the first underwater tunnel for a North American subway:

BPL images used under this Creative Commons license.

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Comments

Their names will never be taught to school children or carved into the pedestal of a monument, but it is men like this that built America.

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It was women that clothed them, fed them, massaged them, did their laundry, had their children, kept the house, took care of the finances, washed the floors, and soothed the sordid souls of those misogynistic, racist, anti-LGBTQ cowards who kept women and minorities from their rightful place at the front of the line with the pickaxe.

Those are the names that will never be taught to children and carved into pedestals of a monument. They are the ones who really built those tunnels.

#MeToo

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It was way more dangerous than digging tunnels with pickaxes.

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Though I am not arguing that likely many of those spouses did indeed support their partners in the manner that you described, it's not the kind of work that would have a majority of people clamoring to get in there and participate in, especially if one standard (output) would be expected across the genders.

At that rate, don't forget the parents who created the male & female of any given couple, so that the male could dig the tunnel & the female could be supportive. Also, don't forget to thank the manufacturers of the tools used in the tunnel. And the farmers who provided some of the nourishment that the wives cooked.

By the way, how many tunnels have you/do you plan to dig, since your "rightful place" is as achievable now as it's ever been? Just curious.

#ButWhatAbout
#CantChangeThePast

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What a peach. Don't you wish they came with permanent signs, so you could see them coming and cross the street to avoid them?

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Anyone know where in Boston I can get a few big, burly men?

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Heynow! that's my group's site :p

We are having our big event coming up in Ptown in July (7-14). There will be tons of big burly men there...

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A story on a subway tunnel was turned into a political debate on society's failings.

A few words offered in honor of some hard working people with no malice of intent or underlying agenda had the words re-read into something never intended so that the responder could advance an agenda.

Such is the value of social media these days. It once was a major outreach tool and now anyone advancing a comment has to re-think all facets of political correctness instead of just offering a comment of the moment.

Not every post has to be picked apart for what it says... or not says.

Maybe we need a post about buses so we can hijack the dialogue to talk about dog parks that didn't happen, or oddly parked cars so we can complain about airplane noise.

To quote the past... Just say no.

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Political? Somebody saying we should remember workers is political? No burgers on the grill for you this Labor Day!

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"At the end of the tunnel, men had to work to make it even longer. The tunnel was deep enough to require an airlock to ward off the bends"

Reportedly the tunneling just east of what is now Aquarium station hit a well on Long Wharf that had been capped over but still had some air coming into it from above. Knocked out some ear drums with the rapid change in pressure.

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I saw a mention somewhere that four men died during construction (not saying it was from this well, just recounting a sad fact).

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How come so many subway tunnels got built back then, but now that we have 120 more years of technology which should make things cheaper and easier, nothing ever gets built?

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I'd say the mass of legalities that are enforced in executing such work, combined with a more microscopic look at the safety of those involved (i.e. human life being treated with more "value" in such working conditions).

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It's all about the Benjamin's my friend. I'd love to have Elon Musk build a hyperloop here in Boston.

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