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
Object Name
Date made
Mydans, Carl
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 8 in x 10 in; 20.32 cm x 25.4 cm
place made
United States: New York, New York
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Carl Mydans
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Carl Mydans
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Mydans, Carl. Carl Mydans, Photojournalist

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.