Downtown Hudson Tubes

Route map:

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The Downtown Hudson Tubes (formerly the Cortlandt Street Tunnel[2]) are a pair of tunnels that carry PATH trains under the Hudson River in the United States, between New York City to the east and Jersey City, New Jersey, to the west. The tunnels runs between the World Trade Center station on the New York side and the Exchange Place station on the New Jersey side.

Downtown Hudson Tubes
PATH junction.jpg
1909 illustration of flying junction of Uptown Hudson Tubes in Jersey City which connect to Downtown tubes to the south
LocationHudson River
Coordinates40°42′54″N 74°01′28″W / 40.7151°N 74.0244°W / 40.7151; -74.0244
StartWorld Trade Center
EndExchange Place
OpenedJuly 19, 1909
CharacterRapid transit
Design engineerCharles M. Jacobs
Length5,650 ft (1,722 m)[1]
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrified600 V DC third rail
Tunnel clearance15.25 ft (4.65 m)[1]
Depth of tunnel below water level97 ft (29.6 m)
below sea level[1]
Depth of shipping channel above(?)
Downtown Hudson Tubes is located in New York City
Downtown Hudson Tubes
Downtown Hudson Tubes

PATH operates two services through the Downtown Tubes, Newark–World Trade Center and Hoboken–World Trade Center. The former normally operates 24/7, while the latter only operates on weekdays.[3] However, beginning in 2019, the Downtown Tubes are being reconstructed due to extensive damage during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. As a result, the Newark–World Trade Center service only runs to the World Trade Center on weekdays and holiday weekends through 2020. On most weekends, the service terminates at Exchange Place.[4]


The Downtown Hudson Tubes use a roughly east-southeast to west-northwest path under the Hudson River, connecting Manhattan in the east with Jersey City in the west. Each track is located in its own tunnel,[5] which enables better ventilation by the so-called piston effect. When a train passes through the tunnel it pushes out the air in front of it toward the closest ventilation shaft, and also pulls air into the rail tunnel from the closest ventilation shaft behind it.[6] The diameter of both downtown tubes is 15 feet 3 inches (4.65 m).[7]

On the Manhattan end, the tubes were connected by a balloon loop. The loop fanned out to include five tracks served by three platforms. This layout was built during the construction of the original Hudson Terminal, and a similar layout existed in two of the successive World Trade Center PATH stations that replaced it.[8]:59–60 The current World Trade Center PATH station includes four platforms, but the general track layout, with the five-track balloon loop, is otherwise similar to that of the previous World Trade Center stations.[9]:S.10[10]


The tunnels were the second non-waterborne connection between Manhattan and New Jersey, after the Uptown Hudson Tubes.[8]:15 The idea for the downtown tunnels was devised by another company in 1903, the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad Corporation (H&M). However, William Gibbs McAdoo's New York and Jersey Railroad Company, which was constructing the Uptown Tubes, was interested in the H&M tunnel.[11] Early in the planning process, there were elaborate reports that the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) was interested in operating its trains through the Downtown Hudson Tubes, so that the PRR's New York Penn Station could be used solely for non-terminating trains. However, McAdoo denied these rumors, saying, "the Pennsylvania has not one dollar's interest" in such a venture.[12] In January 1905, the Hudson Companies was incorporated for the purpose of completing the Uptown Hudson Tubes. The Hudson Companies would also build a pair of downtown tunnels between the Exchange Place station, in Jersey City, and Hudson Terminal, at the corner of Church and Cortlandt Streets in Lower Manhattan. The company already had a capital of $21 million at the time of its incorporation.[13]

Work on the underwater section of the Downtown Tubes started in April 1905.[14] That June, the New York State Board of Commissioners approved of the layout for the Downtown Tubes' Manhattan end. Since the tubes were[15] The Hudson and Manhattan Railroad Company was incorporated in December 1906 to operate a passenger railroad system between New York and New Jersey via the Uptown and Downtown Tubes.[16][17] The Downtown Tubes, located about 1.25 miles (2.01 km) south of the uptown pair, were well under construction by that time,[8]:19 as 3,000 feet (910 m) of these tubes had been constructed.[18] Construction of the Downtown Tubes proceeded smoothly, and digging on the first of the Downtown Tubes was completed in January 1909, without anyone being killed during the process.[19] The tubes began service on July 19, 1909, with the opening of the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad's Hudson Terminal in lower Manhattan.[8]:18[20][21] At first, service only ran to Exchange Place, for the connection to the PRR's Exchange Place station.[22]

When the original World Trade Center was constructed in the 1960s, the Downtown Tubes remained in service as elevated tunnels until 1970, when a new PATH station was built.[23] The new PATH station opened on July 6, 1971, and the Hudson Terminal was closed at that time.[24] The downtown and uptown tubes were declared National Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks in 1978 by the American Society of Civil Engineers.[25]

The last remnant of Hudson Terminal was a cast-iron tube embedded in the original World Trade Center's foundation, located near Church Street. It was located above the level of the new PATH station, as well as that of the station's replacement after the September 11 attacks. The cast-iron tube was removed in 2008 during the construction of the new World Trade Center.[26]

On July 7, 2006, an alleged plot to detonate explosives in the PATH's Downtown Hudson Tubes (initially said to be a plot to bomb the Holland Tunnel) was uncovered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The plot included the detonation of a bomb that could significantly destroy and flood the tunnels, endangering all the occupants and vehicles in the tunnel at the time of the explosion. The terror planners believed that Lower Manhattan could, as a result of the explosion, be flooded due to river water surging up the remaining tunnel after the blast. Officials say that this plan was unsound due to the strength of the tunnels. Since semi-trailer trucks are currently not allowed to pass through the Holland Tunnel, and it was unfeasible to carry such a bomb on board a PATH train, it was very difficult to get sufficient explosives into the tunnel to accomplish the plan. If the tunnel were to explode and allow water from the Hudson River to flood the (Holland) tunnel, Lower Manhattan would be spared since the area is 2–10 feet (0.61–3.05 m) above sea level. Of the eight planners based in six different countries, three were arrested.[27]

The Downtown Hudson Tubes were severely damaged in Hurricane Sandy. As a result, to accommodate repairs, service on the Newark–World Trade Center line between Exchange Place and World Trade Center will be suspended during almost all weekends in 2019 and 2020, except for holidays.[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Fitzherbert, Anthony (June 1964). ""The Public Be Pleased": William G. McAdoo and the Hudson Tubes". Electric Railroaders Association, Retrieved January 18, 2010.
  2. ^ "BUYING BY SPECULATORS NEAR TUNNEL TERMINAL; Frequent Purchases on Dey, Fulton, and Vesey Streets -- Territory West of Broadway Commanding More Attention -- Ownership Covering a Century Ended Last Week". The New York Times. February 26, 1905. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  3. ^ "PATH Timetable". Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. January 2019. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Walker, Ameena (December 5, 2018). "World Trade Center's PATH station will close for 45 weekends for repairs". Curbed NY. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
  5. ^ Fitzherbert, Anthony (June 1964). "The Public Be Pleased: William Gibbs McAdoo and the Hudson Tubes". Electric Railroaders' Association. Retrieved April 24, 2018 – via
  6. ^ Davies, John Vipond (1910). "The Tunnel Construction of the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad Company". Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society. 49: 164–187. JSTOR 983892.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  7. ^ "The Worlds Greatest Inter-Urban Tunnels" (PDF). Evening Star. Washington D.C. June 24, 1905. p. 2. Retrieved April 24, 2018 – via
  8. ^ a b c d Cudahy, Brian J. (2002), Rails Under the Mighty Hudson (2nd ed.), New York: Fordham University Press, ISBN 978-0-82890-257-1, OCLC 911046235
  9. ^ Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (2007). Permanent WTC PATH Terminal: Environmental Impact Statement. United States Department of Transportation; Federal Transit Administration.
  10. ^ Dunlap, David W. (December 16, 2004). "Blocks; At Site of New Tower, a Game of Inches". The New York Times. Retrieved February 19, 2018 (a diagram is available here).
  11. ^ "ANOTHER TUNNEL SCHEME; Company Formed to Drive One Under the North River. Would Extend from Cortlandt Street and Broadway to Jersey City -- Purchases of Property Made". The New York Times. March 21, 1903. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  12. ^ "THE THIRD HUDSON TUNNEL.; W.G. McAdoo Denies the Detailed Report That the Pennsylvania Road is Interested". The New York Times. June 3, 1903. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 22, 2018.
  13. ^ "$21,000,000 COMPANY FOR HUDSON TUNNELS; Will Also Build Ninth Street and Sixth Avenue Subways. FOR CENTRAL PARK ROUTE? Rapid Transit Board Hints at It in Recommending McAdoo Underground Routes to Aldermen". The New York Times. 1905. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  14. ^ "BEGIN SECOND HUDSON TUBE.; Work on New York and Jersey Tunnel to be Started Thursday". The New York Times. April 9, 1905. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  15. ^ "APPROVE RIVER TUNNELS.; Commissioners Favor Cortlandt and Morton Street Plans". The New York Times. June 17, 1905. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  16. ^ The Commercial & Financial Chronicle ...: A Weekly Newspaper Representing the Industrial Interests of the United States. William B. Dana Company. 1914.
  17. ^ "$100,000,000 CAPITAL FOR M'ADOO TUNNELS; Railroad Commission Agrees to Issuance of Big Mortgage. McADOO EXPLAINS PROGRESS The Work Very Expensive, but Going on Rapidly -- New Bonds to Take Up Old Issues". The New York Times. December 12, 1906. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  18. ^ "$100,000,000 CAPITAL FOR M'ADOO TUNNELS; Railroad Commission Agrees to Issuance of Big Mortgage. McADOO EXPLAINS PROGRESS The Work Very Expensive, but Going on Rapidly -- New Bonds to Take Up Old Issues". The New York Times. December 12, 1906. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  19. ^ "FIFTH TUBE OPEN UNDER THE HUDSON; Chief Engineer Jacobs of the McAdoo System Fires the Shot That Does It. READY FOR CARS ON JULY 1 McAdoo Terminal to Open on the Same Day -- Latest Tunnel Built Without Loss of a Life". The New York Times. 1909. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  20. ^ Taft, William H. (July 20, 1909). "40,000 CELEBRATE NEW TUBES' OPENING; Downtown McAdoo Tunnels to Jersey City Begin Business with a Rush. TRIP TAKES THREE MINUTES Red Fire and Oratory Signalize the Event -- Speeches by Gov. Fort and Others -- Ovation to Mr. McAdoo". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  21. ^ Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. "PATH:History". Retrieved January 19, 2010.
  22. ^ "UNDER THE HUDSON BY FOUR TUBES NOW; Second Pair of McAdoo Tunnels to Jersey City Will Open To-morrow. BIG CELEBRATION PLANNED Speeches, Decorations, and Fireworks -- New Tubes Under Cortlandt Street Ferry -- Shore Section Open Aug. 2". The New York Times. July 18, 1909. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  23. ^ Carroll, Maurice (December 30, 1968). "A Section of the Hudson Tubes Is Turned Into Elevated Tunnel". The New York Times. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  24. ^ Burks, Edward C. (July 7, 1971). "New PATH Station Opens Downtown" (PDF). New York Times. p. 74. Retrieved May 30, 2010.
  25. ^ "History and Heritage of Civil Engineering: Hudson and Manhattan Railroad Tunnel". American Society of Civil Engineers. Archived from the original on December 3, 2009. Retrieved March 13, 2009.
  26. ^ Dunlap, David W. (October 26, 2008). "Another Ghost From Ground Zero's Past Fades Away". The New York Times.
  27. ^ Schippert, Steve (July 7, 2006). "ThreatsWatch.Org: InBrief: Foreign Plot to Bomb Holland Tunnel Thwarted - Updated". Retrieved December 29, 2017.

Further readingEdit