A sandhog calls out the number of inches of the "shove"

Early in 1939 Carl Mydans traveled 100 feet underground to document the building of the Midtown Tunnel in New York City, which runs under the East River all the way from 42nd Street in Manhattan to Queens. His photographs were published in LIFE magazine (April 3, 1939) and earned Mydans a Grand Prize by U.S. Camera [n.d.].
At the moment this picture was taken, hydraulic jacks from the shield-- a criss-cross structure of heavy girders ringed in steel plate-- is pushing against the last laid iron section. As the shield pushes ahead into the river bed, the "shove" is called out. Afterwards, sections are plugged to avoid any air leaks. In good ground, the shield makes one shove every five hours; in bad ground, it can take up to twenty-four hours.
Currently not on view
Date made
Mydans, Carl
place made
United States: New York, New York
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 8 in x 10 in; 20.32 cm x 25.4 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Carl Mydans
Data Source
National Museum of American History


Add a comment about this object