By Jordan Heller
MANHATTAN — The Queens-Midtown Tunnel is 70 years old.
To commemorate the tunnel's birthday, which opened to traffic on Nov. 15, 1940, MTA Bridges and Tunnels is displaying a collection of historic photographs in the lobby of its Lower Manhattan offices at 2 Broadway through the end of November.
The photographs document the construction and opening of the tunnel, which, at the time was the largest non-federal works project in the nation.
The photo exhibit includes a picture of the scene during groundbreaking for the tunnel on Oct. 2, 1936, which featured the ceremonial push of a button by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
A little more than four years later — after 54 million hours of labor that included dynamiting and drilling through more than 12,500 feet of schist, limestone, gneiss, dolomite and earth — Pres. Roosevelt became the first person to drive through the tunnel.
According to MTA Bridges and Tunnels President Jim Ferrara, from its inception the Queens-Midtown Tunnel has been a key link in the New York City metropolitan region's transportation network.
"[The tunnel provides] a vital conduit for businesses, daily commuters and families exploring the cultural riches that exist from Manhattan to Queens and Long Island," Ferrara said in a statement.
In its first full year of operation, the tunnel accommodated 4.4 million vehicles, as compared to 27.7 million vehicles in 2009. In 1940 it costs 25 cents to cross. Today, it's $5.50.