HERE’S a look at the westbound exit ramp of the Queens-Midtown tunnel the year it opened, in 1940. To an infrastructure buff, there are several interesting things going on here. From the beginning, the tunnel and its entrance and exit ramps have had their own peculiar style of curved-mast lampposts, and they still stand guard on the entrance and exit roads labeled on maps as “Tunnel Entrance Street” “Tunnel Approach Street” and “Tunnel Exit Street.” However, this is the first photo I’ve seen that shows what the original lamp fixtures looked like; in the 1950s they were replaced by Westinghouse AK-10 cuplights that have recently been given bright white LED bulbs.
The elevated train in the background was the Second Avenue El, which had only two years of operations left when the photo was taken.
Here’s a look today from approximately the same spot. There’s quite a bit more traffic these days, and a lot more high rise apartment buildings, the most distinctive of which is The Corinthian, seen center left.
Take a look at the 1940 photo again. Care was taken to make the tunnel walls and overpasses especially pleasing with attractive brickwork. Most of this has been retained in the 2nd Avenue and Tunnel Approach Street overpasses south of the tunnel bellmouth. I’ve been talking about hidden tunnels lately, and these overpasses are sufficiently wide to give the impressions of a pair of short tunnels after traffic has emerged from the QMT proper.
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