Sandhog working under the East River

In 1939 LIFE magazine sent Mydans to the East River in New York City to document the progress of the Midtown Tunnel construction. His photo essay (April 3, 1939) gives us a glimpse of the dangerous working conditions underground and the men who endured this undertaking.
Sandhogs worked in tunnels 100 feet below the surface of a river, where compressed air doubled or tripled the atmospheric pressure on their bodies and where the noise of drilling and blasting was multiplied as it bounced back from the iron tunnel walls.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
Mydans, Carl
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 14 in x 9 1/2 in; 35.56 cm x 24.13 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

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.