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Keeping Things Fresh At Queens Midtown Tunnel

Queens Vent Building nearing completion. 11/21/1939

Most drivers pass by them every day but don’t give much thought to two buildings that are essential to everyday operations at the Queens Midtown Tunnel but trust us they are helping you breath easier. 

The Queens Ventilation Building, located on Borden Avenue, and the Manhattan Ventilation Building, off the FDR Drive between 41st and 42nd streets, together contain 46 hugh exhaust and supply fans that provide a complete air change in both tubes of the tunnel every 90 seconds.

It took more than four years to buildng the Queens Midtown Tunnel.

Official groundbreaking ceremonies were helod Oct. 2, 1936 and the tunnel opened to traffic on Nov. 15, 1940. During its construction 4,617 photographs were taken of what was then the largest, non-federal public works project in the country. 

These photographs are just a few from the Queens Midtown Tunnel collection tat show the Queens Ventilation Building under construction. The building, constructed in the art deco style, is rectangular while the Manhattan ventilation building is octagonal shaped. 

Together, these two buildings house the giant 11x11 foot high fans that pull exhaust fumes out of the tunnels’ twin tubes and exchange it with fresh air. The buildings also contain other structural elements that keep the tunnels operating, including the drainage pump system, fire standpipe system and a stand alone generator.

 

 

 

Aerial view of Queens Vent Building under construction. May 1940.
Aerial view of Queens Vent Building under construction. May 1940.
Bricklayers at work on the Queens Vent Building. 8/23/1939.
Bricklayers at work on the Queens Vent Building. 8/23/1939.