Home > IRT: The First Subway > The New York Subway: Its Construction And Equipment

The New York Subway: Chapter 02, Types and Methods of Construction

From nycsubway.org

img_17541.jpg

Four-track Subway Showing Crossover South of 18th Street Station.

FIVE types of construction have been employed in building the road: (1) the typical subway near the surface with flat roof and "I" beams for the roof and sides, supported between tracks with steel bulb-angle columns used on about 10.6 miles or 52.2 per cent. of the road; (2) flat roof typical subway of reinforced concrete construction supported between the tracks by steel bulb-angle columns, used for a short distance on Lenox Avenue and on the Brooklyn portion of the Brooklyn Extension, also on the Battery Park loop; (3) concrete lined tunnel used on about 4.6 miles or 23 per cent. of the road, of which 4.2 per cent. was concrete lined open cut work, and the remainder was rock tunnel work; (4) elevated road on steel viaduct used on about 5 miles or 24.6 per cent. of the road; (5) cast-iron tubes used under the Harlem and East Rivers.

Typical Subway

img_28420.jpg

Typical Section of Four-track Subway.

The general character of the flat roof "I" beam construction is shown in photograph on page 28 and drawing on this page. The bottom is of concrete. The side walls have "I" beam columns five feet apart, between which are vertical concrete arches, the steel acting as a support for the masonry and allowing the thickness of the walls to be materially reduced from that necessary were nothing but concrete used. The tops of the wall columns are connected by roof beams which are supported by rows of steel columns between the tracks, built on concrete and cut stone bases forming part of the floor system. Concrete arches between the roof beams complete the top of the subway. Such a structure is not impervious, and hence, there has been laid behind the side walls, under the floor and over the roof a course of two to eight thicknesses of felt, each washed with hot asphalt as laid. In addition to this precaution against dampness, in three sections of the subway (viz.: on Elm Street between Pearl and Grand Streets, and on the approaches to the Harlem River tunnel, and on the Battery Park Loop) the felt waterproofing has been made more effective by one or two courses of hard-burned brick laid in hot asphalt, after the manner sometimes employed in constructing the linings of reservoirs of waterworks.

In front of the waterproofing, immediately behind the steel columns, are the systems of terra-cotta ducts in which the electric cables are placed. The cables can be reached by means of manholes every 200 to 450 feet, which open into the subway and also into the street. The number of these ducts ranges from 128 down to 32, and they are connected with the main power station at 58th and 59th Streets and the Hudson River by a 128-duct subway under the former street.


Image 17507
(62k, 620x479)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway

Image 17508
(83k, 640x427)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway



Reinforced Concrete Construction

The reinforced concrete construction substitutes for the steel roof beams, steel rods, approximating 1.25 inches square, laid in varying distances according to the different roof loads, from six to ten inches apart. Rods 1 1/8 inches in diameter tie the side walls, passing through angle columns in the walls and the bulb-angle columns in the center. Layers of concrete are laid over the roof rods to a thickness of from eighteen to thirty inches, and carried two inches below the rods, imbedding them. For the sides similar square rods and concrete are used and angle columns five feet apart. The concrete of the side walls is from fifteen to eighteen inches thick. This type is shown in photographs on page 41. The rods used are of both square and twisted form.

Methods of Construction: Typical Subway

The construction of the typical subway has been carried on by a great variety of methods, partly adopted on account of the conditions under which the work had to be prosecuted and partly due to the personal views of the different sub-contractors. The work was all done by open excavation, the so-called "cut and cover" system, but the conditions varied widely along different parts of the line, and different means were adopted to overcome local difficulties. The distance of the rock surface below the street level had a marked influence on the manner in which the excavation of the open trenches could be made. In some places this rock rose nearly to the pavement, as between 14th and 18th Streets. At other places the subway is located in water-bearing loam and sand, as in the stretch between Pearl and Grand Streets, where it was necessary to employ a special design for the bottom, which is illustrated by the drawing - Section of Subway at Pearl Street.

This part of the route includes the former site of the ancient Collect Pond, familiar in the early history of New York, and the excavation was through made ground, the pond having been filled in for building purposes after it was abandoned for supplying water to the city. The excavations through Canal Street, adjacent, were also through made ground, that street having been at one time, as its name implies, a canal.

From the City Hall to 9th Street was sand, presenting no particular difficulties except through the territory just described.

At Union Square rock was encountered on the west side of Fourth Avenue from the surface down. On the east side of the street, however, at the surface was sand, which extended 15 feet down to a sloping rock surface. The tendency of the sand to a slide off into the rock excavation required great care. The work was done, however, without interference with the street traffic, which is particularly heavy at that point.

The natural difficulties of the route were increased by the network of sewers, water and gas mains, steam pipes, pneumatic tubes, electric conduits and their accessories, which filled the streets; and by the surface railways and their conduits. In some places the columns of the elevated railway had to be shored up temporarily, and in other places the subway passes close to the foundations of lofty buildings, where the construction needed to insure the safety of both subway and buildings was quite intricate. As the subway is close to the surface along a considerable part of its route, its construction involved the reconstruction of all the underground pipes and ducts in many places, as well as the removal of projecting vaults and buildings, and, in some cases, the underpinning of their walls. A description in detail of the methods of construction followed all along the line would make an interesting book of itself. Space will only permit, however, an account of how some of the more serious difficulties were overcome.

On Fourth Avenue, north of Union Square to 33d Street, there were two electric conduit railway tracks in the center of the roadway and a horse car track near each curb part of the distance. The two electric car tracks were used for traffic which could not be interrupted, although the horse car tracks could be removed without inconvenience. These conditions rendered it impracticable to disturb the center of the roadway, while permitting excavation near the curb. Well-timbered shafts about 8 x 10 feet, in plan, were sunk along one curb line and tunnels driven from them toward the other side of the street, stopping about 3.5 feet beyond its center line. A bed of concrete was laid on the bottom of each tunnel, and, when it had set, a heavy vertical trestle was built on it. In this way trestles were built half across the street, strong enough to carry all the street cars and traffic on that half of the roadway. Cableways to handle the dirt were erected near the curb line, spanning a number of these trestles, and then the earth between them was excavated from the curb to within a few feet of the nearest electric car track. The horse car tracks were removed. Between the electric tracks a trench was dug until its bottom was level with the tops of the trestles, about three feet below the surface as a rule. A pair of heavy steel beams was then laid in this trench on the trestles. Between these beams and the curb line a second pair of beams were placed. In this way the equivalent of a bridge was put up, the trestles acting as piers and the beams as girders. The central portion of the roadway was then undermined and supported by timbering suspended from the steel beams. The various gas and water pipes were hung from timbers at the surface of the ground. About four sections, or 150 feet, of the subway were built at a time in this manner. When the work was completed along one side of the street it was repeated in the same manner on the other side. This method of construction was subsequently modified so as to permit work on both sides of the street simultaneously. The manner in which the central part of the roadway was supported remained the same and all of the traffic was diverted to this strip.

Between 14th and 17th Streets, because of the proximity of the rock to the surface, it was necessary to move the tracks of the electric surface railway from the center of the street some twenty feet to the east curb, without interrupting traffic, which was very heavy at all times, the line being one of the main arteries of the Metropolitan system. Four 12x12-inch timbers were laid upon the surface. Standard cast-iron yokes were placed upon the timbers at the usual distance apart. Upon this structure the regular track and slot rails were placed. The space between the rails was floored over. Wooden boxes were temporarily laid for the electric cables. The usual hand holes and other accessories were built and the road operated on this timber roadbed. The removal of the tracks was made necessary because the rock beneath them and the concrete around the yolks was so closely united as to be practically monolithic, precluding the use of explosives. Attempts to remove the rock from under the track demonstrated that it could not be done without destroying the yokes of the surface railway.

The method of undermining the tracks on Broadway from 60th to 104th Streets was entirely different, for the conditions were not the same. The street is a wide one with a 22-foot parkway in the center, an electric conduit railway on either side, and outside each track a wide roadway. The subway excavation extended about 10 feet outside each track, leaving between it and the curb ample room for vehicles. The construction problem, therefore, was to care for the car tracks with a minimum interference with the excavation. This was accomplished by temporary bridges for each track, each bridge consisting of a pair of timber trusses about 55 feet long, braced together overhead high enough to let a car pass below the bracing. These trusses were set up on crib-work supports at each end, and the track hung from the lower chords. The excavation then proceeded until the trench was finished and the posts could be put into place between its bottom and the track. When the track was securely supported in this way, the trusses were lifted on flat cars and moved ahead 50 feet.

At 66th Street station the subway roof was about 2 feet from the electric railway yokes and structures of the street surface line. In order to build at this point it was necessary to remove two large gas mains, one 30 inches and the other 36 inches in diameter, and substitute for them, in troughs built between the roof beams of the subway, five smaller gas mains, each 24 inches in diameter. This was done without interrupting use of the mains.

At the station on 42d street, between Park and Madison Avenues, where there are five subway tracks, and along 42d Street to Broadway, a special method of construction was employed which was not followed elsewhere. The excavation here was about 35 feet deep and extended 10 to 15 feet into rock. A trench 30 feet wide was first sunk on the south side of the street and the subway built in it for a width of two tracks. Then, at intervals of 50 feet, tunnels were driven toward the north side of the street. Their tops were about 4 feet above the roof of the subway and their bottoms were on the roof. When they had been driven just beyond the line of the fourth track, their ends were connected by a tunnel parallel with the axis of the subway. The rock in the bottom of all these tunnels was then excavated to its final depth. In the small tunnel parallel with the subway axis, a bed of concrete was placed and the third row of steel columns was erected ready to carry the steel and concrete roof. When this work was completed, the earth between the traverse tunnels was excavated, the material above being supported on poling boards and struts. The roof of the subway was then extended sidewise over the rock below from the second to the third row of columns, and it was not until the roof was finished that the rock beneath was excavated. In this way the subway was finished for a width of four tracks. For the fifth track the earth was removed by tunneling to the limits of the subway, and then the rock below was blasted out.

In a number of places it was necessary to underpin the columns of the elevated railways, and a variety of methods were adopted for the work. A typical example of the difficulties involved was afforded at the Manhattan Railway Elevated Station at 6th Avenue and 42d Street. The stairways of this station were directly over the open excavation for the subway in the latter thoroughfare and were used by a large number of people. The work was done in the same manner at each of the four corners. Two narrow pits about 40 feet apart, were first sunk and their bottoms covered with concrete at the elevation of the floor of the subway. A trestle was built in each pit, and on these were placed a pair of 3-foot plate girders, one on each side of the elevated column, which was midway between the trestles. The column was then riveted to the girders and was thus held independent of its original foundations. Other pits were then sunk under the stairway and trestles built in them to support it. When this work was completed it was possible to carry out the remaining excavation without interfering with the elevated railway traffic.

At 64th Street and Broadway, also, the whole elevated railway had to be supported during construction. A temporary wooden bent was used to carry the elevated structure. The elevated columns were removed until the subway structure was completed at that point.

A feature of the construction which attracted considerable public attention while it was in progress, was the underpinning of a part of the Columbus Monument near the southwest entrance to Central Park. This handsome memorial column has a stone shaft rising about 75 feet about the street level and weighs about 700 tons. The rubble masonry foundation is 45 feet square and rests on a 2-foot course of concrete. The subway passes under its east side within 3 feet of its center, thus cutting out about three-tenths of the original support. At this place the footing was on dry sand of considerable depth, but the other side of the monument rock rose within three feet of the surface. The steep slope of the rock surface toward the subway necessitated particular care in underpinning the footings. The work was done by first driving a tunnel 6 feet wide and 7 feet high under the monument just outside the wall line of the subway. The tunnel was given a 2-foot bottom of concrete as a support for a row of wood posts a foot square, which were put in every 5 feet to carry the footing above. When enough of these posts were securely wedged in place the tunnel was filled with rubble masonry. This wall was strong enough to carry the weight of the portion of the monument over the subway, but the monument had to be supported to prevent its breaking off when undermined. To support it thus a small tunnel was driven through the rubble masonry foundation just below the street level and a pair of plate girders run through it. A trestle bent was then built under each end of the girders in the finished excavation for the subway. The girders were wedged up against the top of the tunnel in the masonry and the excavation was carried out under the monument without any injury to that structure.

At 134th Street and Broadway a two-track structure of the steel beam type about 200 feet long was completed. Approaching it from the south, leading from Manhattan Valley Viaduct, was an open cut with retaining walls 300 feet long and from 3 to 13 feet in height. After all this work was finished (and it happened to be the first finished on the subway), it was decided to widen the road to three tracks, and a unique piece of work was successfully accomplished. The retaining walls were moved bodily on slides, by means of jacks, to a line 6.25 feet on each side, widening the roadbed 12.5 feet, without a break in either wall. The method of widening the steel-beam typical subway portion was equally novel. The west wall was moved bodily by jacks the necessary distance to bring it in line with the new piece of the west retaining wall. The remainder of the structure was then moved bodily, also by jacks, 6.25 feet to the east. The new roof was then added over 12.5 feet of additional opening.

Provision had to be made, not only for the buildings along the route that towered far above the street surface, but also for some which burrowed far below the subway. Photograph on page 47 shows an interesting example at 42d Street and Broadway, where the pressroom of the new building of the New York Times is beneath the subway, the first floor is above it, and the first basement alongside of it. Incidentally it should be noted that the steel structure of the building and the subway are independent, the columns of the building passing through the subway station.


Image 17509
(76k, 640x451)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway

Image 17510
(56k, 627x384)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway

Image 17511
(67k, 622x387)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway

Image 17512
(54k, 500x394)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway

Image 17514
(55k, 499x328)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway

Image 17515
(64k, 500x344)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway

Image 17517
(70k, 493x373)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway

Image 17518
(81k, 565x465)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway

Image 17519
(73k, 500x390)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway

Image 17520
(44k, 445x459)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway

Image 17521
(41k, 500x343)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway

Image 17522
(81k, 582x480)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway



At 42d Street and Park Avenue the road passes under the Hotel Belmont, which necessitated the use of extra heavy steel girders and foundations for the support of the hotel and reinforced subway station.

Along the east side of Park Row the ascending line of the "loop" was built through the pressroom of the New York Times (the older downtown building), and as the excavation was considerably below the bottom of the foundation of the building, great care was necessary to avoid any settlement. Instead of wood sheathing, steel channels were driven and thoroughly braced, and construction proceeded without disturbance of the building, which is very tall.

At 125th Street and Lenox Avenue, one of the most complex network of subsurface structures was encountered. Street surface electric lines with their conduits intersect. On the south side of 125th Street were a 48-inch water main and a 6-inch water main, a 12-inch and two 10-inch gas pipes and a bank of electric light and power ducts. On the north side were a 20-inch water main, one 6-inch, one 10-inch, and one 12-inch gas pipe and two banks of electric ducts. The headroom between the subway roof and the surface of the street was 4.75 feet. It was necessary to relocate the yokes of the street railway tracks on Lenox Avenue so as to bring them directly over the tunnel roof-beams. Between the lower flanges of the roof-beams, for four bents, were laid heavy steel plates well stiffened, and in those troughs were laid four 20-inch pipes, which carried the water of the 48-inch main. Special castings were necessary to make the connections at each end. The smaller pipes and ducts were rearranged and carried over the roof or laid in troughs composed of 3-inch I-beams laid on the lower flanges of the roof-beams. In addition to all the transverse pipes, there were numerous pipes and duct lines to be relaid and rebuilt parallel to the subway and around the station. The change was accomplished without stopping or delaying the street cars. The water mains were shut off for only a few hours.

As has been said, the typical subway near the surface was used for about one-half of the road. Since the sewers were at such a depth as to interfere with the construction of the subway, it meant that the sewers along that half had to be reconstructed. This indicates but very partially the magnitude of the sewer work, however, because nearly as many main sewers had to be reconstructed off the route of the subway as on the route; 7.21 miles of main sewers along the route were reconstructed and 5.13 miles of main sewers off the route. The reason why so many main sewers on streets away from the subway had to be rebuilt was that, from 42d Street south there is a natural ridge, and before the construction of the subway sewers drained to the East River and to the North River from the ridge. The route of the subway was so near to the dividing line that the only way to care for the sewers was, in many instances, to build entirely new outfall sewers.

A notable example of sewer diversion was at Canal Street, where the flow of the sewer was carried into the East River instead of into the Hudson River, permitting the sewer to be bulkheaded on the west side and continued in use. On the east side a new main sewer was constructed to empty into the East River. The new east-side sewer was built off the route of the subway for over a mile. An interesting feature in the construction was the work at Chatham Square, where a 6.5-foot circular brick conduit was built. The conjunction at this point of numerous electric surface car lines, elevated railroad pillars, and enormous vehicular street traffic, made it imperative that the surface of the street should not be disturbed, and the sewer was built by tunneling. This tunneling was through very fine running sand and the section to be excavated was small. To meet these conditions a novel method of construction was used. Interlocked poling boards were employed to support the roof and were driven by lever jacks, somewhat as a shield is driven in the shield system of tunneling. The forward ends of the poling boards were supported by a cantilever beam. The sides and front of the excavation were supported by lagging boards laid flat against and over strips of canvas, which were rolled down as the excavation progressed. The sewer was completed and lined in lengths of 1 foot to 4.5 feet, and at the maximum rate of work about 12 feet of sewer were completed per week.

At 110th Street and Lenox Avenue a 6.5-foot circular brick sewer intersected the line of the subway at a level which necessitated its removal or subdivision. The latter expedient was adopted, and three 42-inch cast iron pipes were passed under the subway. At 149th Street and Railroad Avenue a sewer had to be lowered below tide level in order to cross under the subway. To do this two permanent inverted siphons were built of 48-inch cast iron pipe. Two were built in order that one might be used while the other could be shut off for cleaning, and they have proved very satisfactory. This was the only instance where siphons were used. In this connection it is worthy of note that the general changes referred to gave to the city much better sewers as substitutes for the old ones.

A number of interesting methods of providing for subsurface structures are shown in photographs pages 51 to 54. From the General Post Office at Park Row to 28th Street, just below the surface, there is a system of pneumatic mail tubes for postal delivery. Of course, absolutely no change in alignment could be permitted while these tubes were in use carrying mail. It was necessary, therefore, to support them very carefully. The slightest deviation in alignment would have stopped the service.


Image 17513
(47k, 532x433)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway

Image 17516
(89k, 637x416)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway

Image 17523
(77k, 636x421)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway

Image 17524
(89k, 599x501)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway

Image 17525
(41k, 360x395)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway

Image 17526
(165k, 800x614)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway

Image 17527
(64k, 500x397)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway

Image 17528
(73k, 386x472)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway



Concrete-Lined Tunnel

Between 33d Street and 42d Street under Park Avenue, between 116th Street and 120th Street under Broadway, between 157th Street and Fort George under Broadway and Eleventh Avenue (the second longest double-track rock tunnel in the United States, the Hoosac tunnel being the only one of greater length), under Central Park to Lenox Avenue, the road is in rock tunnel lined with concrete. From 116th Street to 120th Street, the tunnel is 37.5 feet wide, one of the widest concrete arches in the world. On the section from Broadway and 103d Street to Lenox Avenue and 110th Street under Central Park, a two-track subway was driven through micaceous rock by taking out top headings and then two full-width benches. The work was done from two shafts and one portal. All drilling for the headings was done by an eight-hour night shift, using percussion drills. The blasting was done early in the morning and the day gang removed the spoil, which was hauled to the shafts and the portal in cars drawn by mules. A large part of the rock was crushed for concrete. The concrete floor was the first part of the lining to be put in place. Rails were laid on it for a traveler having moulds attached to its sides, against which the walls were built. A similar traveler followed with the centering for the arch roof, a length of 50 feet being completed at one operation.

On the Park Avenue section from 34th Street to 41st Street, two separate double-track tunnels were driven below a double-track electric railway tunnel, one on each side. The work was done from four shafts, one at each end of each tunnel. At first, top headings were employed at the north ends of both tunnels and at the south end of the west tunnel; at the south end of the east tunnel a bottom heading was used. Later, a bottom heading was also used at the south end of the west tunnel. The rock was very irregular and treacherous in character, and the strata inclined so as to make the danger of slips a very serious one. The two headings of the west tunnel met in February and those of the east tunnel in March, 1902, and the widening of the tunnels to the full section was immediately begun. Despite the adoption of every precaution suggested by experience in such work, some disturbance of the surface above the east tunnel resulted, and several house fronts were damaged. The portion of the tunnel affected was bulkheaded at each end, packed with rubble and grouted with Portland cement mortar injected under pressure through pipes sunk from the street surface above. When the interior was firm, the tunnel was redriven, using much the same methods that are employed for tunnels through earth when the arch lining is built before the central core, or dumpling of earth, is removed. The work had to be done very slowly to prevent any further settlement of the ground, and the completion of the widening of the other parts of the tunnels also proceeded very slowly, because as soon as the slip occurred a large amount of timbering was introduced, which interfered seriously with the operations. After the lining was completed, Portland cement grout was again injected under pressure, through holes left in the roof, until further movement of the fill overhead was absolutely prevented.

As has been said, the tunnel between 157th Street and Fort George is the second longest two-track tunnel in the United States. It was built in a remarkably short time, considering the fact that the work was prosecuted from two portal headings and two shafts. One shaft was at 168th Street and the other at 181st Street, the work proceeding both north and south from each shaft. The method employed for the work was similar to that used under Central Park. The shafts at 168th Street and at 181st Street were located at those points so that they might be used for the permanent elevator equipment for the stations at those streets. These stations each have an arch span of about 50 feet, lined with brick.


Image 17529
(89k, 554x471)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway

Image 17530
(68k, 640x472)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway

Image 17531
(65k, 500x420)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway



Steel Viaduct

The elevated viaduct construction extends from 125th Street to 133d Street and from Dyckman Street to Bailey Avenue on the Western branch, and from Brook and Westchester Avenues to Bronx Park on the eastern, a total distance of about 5 miles. The three-track viaducts are carried on two column bents where the tail is not more than 29 feet above the ground level, and on four-column tours for higher structures. In the latter cause, the posts of a tower are 29 feet apart transversely and 20 or 25 feet longitudinally, as a rule, and the towers are from 70 to 90 feet apart on centers. The tops of the towers have X-bracing and the connecting spans have two panels of intermediate vertical sway bracing between the three pairs of longitudinal girders. In the low viaducts, where there are no towers, every fourth panel has zigzag lateral bracing in the two panels between the pairs of longitudinal girders.

The towers have columns consisting as a rule of a 16x7/16-inch web plate and four 6x4x5/8-inch bulb angles. The horizontal struts in their cross-bracing are made of four 4x3-inch angles, latticed to form an I-shaped cross-section. The X-bracing consists of single 5x3.5-inch angles. The tops of the columns have horizontal cap angles on which are riveted the lower flanges of the transverse girders; the end angles of the girders are web-riveted to the transverse girders. The outside longitudinal girder on each side of the viaduct has the same depth across the tower as in the connecting span, but the four intermediate lines are not so deep across the towers. In the single trestle bents the columns are the same as those just described, but the diagonal bracing is replaced by plate knee-braces.

The Manhattan Valley Viaduct on the West Side line, has a total length of 2,174 feet. Its most important feature is a two-hinged arch of 168.5 feet, which carries platforms shaded by canopies, but no station buildings. The station is on the ground between the surface railway tracks. Access to the platforms is obtained by means of escalators. It has three lattice-girder two-hinge ribs 24.5 feet apart on centers, the center line of each rib being a parabola. Each half-rib supports six spandrel posts carrying the roadway, the posts being seated directly over vertical web members of the rib. The chords of the ribs are 6 feet apart and of an H-section, having four 6x6-inch angles and six 15-inch flange and web plates for the center rib and lighter sections for the outside ribs. The arch was erected without false work.

The viaduct spans of either approach to the arch are 46 to 72 feet long. All transverse girders are 31 feet 4 inches long, and have a 70x3/8-inch web plate and four 6x4-inch angles. The two outside longitudinal girders of deck spans are 72 inches deep and the other 36 inches. All are 3/8-inch thick and their four flange angles vary in size from 5x3.5-inches to 6x6-inches, and on the longest spans there are flange plates. At each end of the viaduct there is a through span with 90-inch web longitudinal girders.

Each track was proportioned for a dead load of 330 pounds per lineal foot and a live load of 25,000 pounds per axle. The axle spacing in the truck was 5 feet and the pairs of axles were alternately 27 and 9 feet apart. The traction load was taken at 20 per cent. of the live load, and a wind pressure of 500 pounds per lineal foot was assumed over the whole structure.


Image 17532
(59k, 463x461)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway

Image 17533
(45k, 500x524)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway

Image 17534
(99k, 558x470)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: 125th Street

Image 17535
(42k, 497x409)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: 125th Street

Image 17536
(50k, 581x353)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: 125th Street



Tubes Under Harlem River

One of the most interesting sections of the work is that which approaches and passes under the Harlem River, carrying the two tracks of the East Side line. The War Department required a minimum depth of 20 feet in the river at low tide, which fixed the elevation of the roof of the submerged part of the tunnel. This part of the line, 641 feet long, consists of twin single-track cast-iron cylinders 16 feet in diameter enveloped in a large mass of concrete and lined with the same material. The approach on either side is a double track concrete arched structure. The total length of the section is 1,500 feet. Diagram - Profile of Harlem River Tunnel and Approaches.

The methods of construction employed were novel in subaqueous tunneling and are partly shown in photographs on pages 62 and 63. The bed of the Harlem River at the point of tunneling consists of mud, silt, and sand, much of which was so nearly in a fluid condition that it was removed by means of a jet. The maximum depth of excavation was about 50 feet. Instead of employing the usual method of a shield and compressed air at high pressure, a much speedier device was contrived.

The river crossing has been built in two sections. The west section was first built, the War Department having forbidden the closing of more than half of the river at one time. A trench was dredged over the line of the tunnel about 50 feet wide and 39 feet below low water. This depth was about 10 feet above the subgrade of the tunnel. Three rows of piles were next driven on each side of the trench from the west bank to the middle of the river and on them working platforms were built, forming two wharves 38 feet apart in the clear. Piles were then driven over the area to be covered by the subway, 6 feet 4 inches apart laterally and 8 feet longitudinally. They were cut off about 11 feet above the center line of each tube and capped with timbers 12 inches square. A thoroughly-trussed framework was then floated over the piles and sunk on them. The trusses were spaced so as to come between each transverse row of piles and were connected by eight longitudinal sticks or stringers, two at the top and two at the bottom on each side. The four at side were just far enough apart to allow a special tongue and grooved 12-inch sheet piling to be driven between them. This sheathing was driven to a depth of 10 to 15 feet below the bottom of the finished tunnel.

A well-caulked roof of three courses of 12-inch timbers, separated by 2-inch plank, was then floated over the piles and sunk. It had three timber shafts 7x17 feet in plan, and when it was in place and covered with earth it formed the top of a caisson with the sheet piling on the sides and ends, the latter being driven after the roof was in place. The excavation below this caisson was made under air pressure, part of the material being blown out by water jets and the remainder removed through the airlocks in the shafts. When the excavation was completed, the piles were temporarily braced and the concrete and cast-iron lining put in place, the piles being cut off as the concrete bed was laid up to them.

The second or eastern section of this crossing was carried on by a modification of the plan just mentioned. Instead of using a temporary timber roof on the side walls, the permanent iron and concrete upper half of the tunnels was employed as a roof for the caisson. The trench was dredged nearly to sub-grade and its sides provided with wharves as before, running out to the completed half of the work. The permanent foundation piles were then driven and a timber frame sunk over them to serve as a guide for the 12-inch sheet piling around the site. Steel pilot piles with water jets were driven in advance of the wood-sheet piles, and if they struck any boulders the latter were drilled and blasted. The steel piles were withdrawn by a six-part tackle and hoisting engine, and then the wooden piles driven in their place.

When the piling was finished, a pontoon 35 feet wide, 106 feet long, and 12 feet deep was built between the wharves, and upon a separate platform or deck on it the upper half of the cast-iron shells were assembled, their ends closed by steel plate diaphragms and the whole covered with concrete. The pontoon was then submerged several feet, parted at its center, and each half drawn out endwise from beneath the floating top of the tunnel. The latter was then loaded and carefully sunk into place, the connection with the shore section being made by a diver, who entered the roof through a special opening. When it was finally in place, men entered through the shore section and cut away the wood bottom, thus completing the caisson so that work could proceed below it as before. Three of these caissons were required to complete the east end of the crossing.

The construction of the approaches to the tunnel was carried out between heavy sheet piling. The excavation was over 40 feet deep in placed and very wet, and the success of the work was largely due to the care in driving the 12-inch sheet piling.

Methods of Construction: Brooklyn Extension

A number of interesting features should be noted in the methods of construction adopted on the Brooklyn extension.

The types of construction on the Brooklyn Extension have already been spoken of. They are (1) typical flat-roof steel beam subway from the Post-office, Manhattan, to Bowling Green; (2) reinforced concrete typical subway in Battery Park, Manhattan, and from Clinton Street to the terminus, in Brooklyn; (3) two single-track cast-iron-lined tubular tunnels from Battery Park, under the East River, and under Joralemon Street to Clinton Street, Brooklyn.

Under Broadway, Manhattan, the work is through sand, the vehicular and electric street car traffic, the network of subsurface structures, and the high buildings making this one of the most difficult portions of the road to build. The street traffic is so great that it was decided that during the daytime the surface of the street should be maintained in a condition suitable for ordinary traffic. This was accomplished by making openings in the sidewalk near the curb, at two points, and erecting temporary working platforms over the street 16 feet from the surface. The excavations are made by the ordinary drift and tunnel method. The excavated material is hoisted from the openings to the platforms and passed through chutes to wagons. On the street surface, over and in advance of the excavations, temporary plank decks are placed and maintained during the drifting and tunneling operations, and after the permanent subway structure has been erected up to the time when the street surface is permanently restored. The roof of the subway is about 5 feet from the surface of the street, which has made it necessary to care for the gas and water mains. This has been done by carrying the mains on temporary trestle structures over the sidewalks. The mains will be restored to their former position when the subway structure is complete.

From Bowling Green, south along Broadway, State Street, and in Battery Park, where the subway is of reinforced concrete construction, the "open cut and cover" method is employed, the elevated and surface railroad structures being temporarily supported by wooden and steel trusses and finally supported by the permanent foundations resting on the subway roof. From Battery Place, south along the loop work, the greater portion of the excavation is made below mean high-water level, and necessitates the use of heavy tongue and grooved sheathing and the operation of two centrifugal pumps, day and night.

The tubes under the East River, including the approaches, are each 6,544 feet in length. The tunnel consists of two cast-iron tubes 15.5 feet in diameter inside, the lining being constructed of cast-iron plates, circular in shape, bolted together and reinforced by grouting outside of the plates and beton filling on the inside to the depths of the flanges. The tubes are being constructed under air pressure through solid rock from the Manhattan side to the middle of the East River by the ordinary rock tunnel drift method, and on the Brooklyn side through sand and silt by the use of hydraulic shields. Four shields have been installed, weighing 51 tons each. They are driven by hydraulic pressure of about 2,000 tons. The two shields drifting to the center of the river from Garden Place are in water-bearing sand and are operated under air pressure. The river tubes are on 3.1 per cent. grade and in the center of the river will reach the deepest point, about 94 feet below mean high-water level.

The typical subway of reinforced concrete from Clinton Street to the Flatbush Avenue terminus is being constructed by the method commonly used on the Manhattan-Bronx route. From Borough Hall to the terminus the route of the subway is directly below an elevated rail structure, which is temporarily supported by timber bracing, having its bearing on the street surface and the tunnel timbers. The permanent support will be masonry piers built upon the roof of the subway structure. Along this portion of the route are street surface electric roads, but they are operated by overhead trolley and the tracks are laid on ordinary ties. It has, therefore, been much less difficult to care for them during the construction of the subway. Work is being prosecuted on the Brooklyn Extension day and night, and in Brooklyn the excavation is made much more rapidly by employing the street surface trolley roads to remove the excavated material. Spur tracks have been built and flat cars are used, much of the removal being done at night.


Image 17537
(55k, 500x394)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway

Image 17538
(81k, 591x470)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway

Image 17539
(72k, 640x456)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway

Image 17540
(80k, 591x513)
Photo by: IRT Company
Location: Interborough Subway











http://www.nycsubway.org/wiki/The_New_York_Subway:_Chapter_02,_Types_and_Methods_of_Construction
nycsubway.org is not affiliated with any transit agency or provider.