December 31, 1600: Queen Elizabeth I grants a Royal Charter. The recipients were “George, Earl of Cumberland, and 215 Knights, Alderman, and Burgesses” under the name, Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading with the East Indies. It is better known as the East India Company. They were originally given a fifteen year monopoly on all trade with all countries east of Cape of Good Hope and west of the Straits of Magellan. The first East India Company voyage took place in 1601 under the command of Sir James Lancaster. Their direct competition was the already working Dutch East India Company, as the British still attempted to break into the lucrative spice trade.
Their first voyage found them opening a factory in Bantam on the western end of the Island of Java. From there, they could export pepper, an important part of their trade for the next twenty years. The factory stayed open until 1683. By 1608, the Company ships were docking at Surat in what is today the Indian state of Gujarat. Soon they had built their first factory in India at Machillpatnam along the Bay of Bengal. Their profits were high and this sparked the new leader of England, King James I, to grant subsidiary licenses to others. However, in 1609, King James renewed the Charter for the Company, this time for an indefinite period. Included in this new charter was a clause that would void it if the Company was unprofitable for three consecutive years.
Even with the support of the Crown, trading was not all smooth sailing. Unfortunately for the British, there were already both Dutch and Portuguese traders in India and these three entities would often be in conflict. The British had a major victory over the Portuguese in the Battle of Swally in 1612. With this victory, they created a greater foothold on mainland India. That same year, a treaty between Sir Thomas Roe and Nuruddin Salim Jahangir gave exclusive rights to the East India Company to reside and build factories in Surat. In return, the British were to supply the Emperor with goods available only from the European market.
The Company grew and grew. They eventually were able to hold a complete monopoly, first with trade and then with colonial expansion. Local rulers were unwilling to simply give up their control to the British and so military expansion was needed to subdue the locals and take control. The East India Company was famous for some of the exports, saltpeter and opium perhaps the most notable. As the British empire expanded and circled the globe, the Indian tea exportation also led to some issue with other British holdings. Over the centuries there were many laws enacted to help sustain the Company, but it finally was dissolved in 1874. India itself finally was freed from British rule in 1947.
Nay, be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought. – Henry David Thoreau
No nation was ever ruined by trade. – Benjamin Franklin
Men cannot not live by exchanging articles, but producing them. They live by work not trade. – John Ruskin
This high official, all allow, is grossly overpaid; there wasn’t any Board, and now there isn’t any Trade. – A. P. Herbert
Also on this day:
December 30, 1924: Edwin Hubble announces there are other galaxies in the universe. Copernicus stated the solar system was heliocentric, but not very loudly. Galileo backed him up with a louder voice and since that would dispute some Biblical scripture, he was forced to recant and punished for his heresy. Regardless of the Pope’s conviction, the solar system is heliocentric and the universe does not revolve around the Earth. Not only are we not the center of everything, we aren’t even a very important part of everything that is, except to ourselves, of course. Telescopes gave scientists better and better images of what was beyond naked eye vision out there in deep space.
Edwin Hubble was born in Missouri in 1889. The family moved to Chicago in 1898. Hubble was an athlete and while in high school, he broke the state record for the high jump. He went the University of Chicago and played basketball for them. He went on to win a Rhodes scholarship and at Oxford he studied law. He eventually earned a Ph.D. in astronomy, but he still practiced law in Kentucky for a time. He rose to rank of major while serving in the US Army during World War I. After the war, bored with law, he went back to astronomy and peering into the abyss of the night sky.
He worked with the new 100-inch telescope at Mount Wilson in Southern California and studied spiral nebulae. It was thought, at the time, that these fuzzy patches in the sky were clouds of gas or dust within our galaxy. The Milky Way was thought to contain everything in the universe (still believing we were the central focus of the entire universe in some small way) except the Magellanic Clouds. However, as Hubble studied the nebula Andromeda, he found a number of stars. Some of these were Cepheid variable stars which vary in intensity from bright to dim. Back in 1912, Henrietta Leavitt of Harvard had shown that by using these Cepheid stars, one could calculate the distance between Earth and their position.
On this date, Hubble announced that we were not the only galaxy and in fact there were many different galaxies out there. He was able to compute the distance to Andromeda as approximately 860,000 light years. The farthest stars of our own galaxy are about one-eighth of that distance. Although this was indeed a cosmic discovery, it was not front page news. Hubble went on to discover about 25 more galaxies during his life. He also employed the Doppler effect and during the 1920s was able to prove that stars were moving away from us. He also proved their red shift was proportional to the distance. Hubble died in 1953. NASA honored him by naming their space telescope after him.
The great spirals… apparently lie outside our stellar system.
The history of astronomy is a history of receding horizons.
Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science.
Past time is finite, future time is infinite. – all from Edwin Hubble
Also on this day:
Once in a Blue Moon – In 1982, the only total eclipse of a blue moon in the entire century took place.
Countess Bathory – In 1610, the Blood Countess was stopped.
Ted on the Loose – In 1977, Ted Bundy once again escaped from prison.
December 29, 1170: Thomas Becket is assassinated. He is also known as Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Thomas of London, and Thomas à Becket. He was born around 1118 or possibly 1120 in Cheapside, London. He was born on December 21, the feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle. His father, Gilbert, was a small landowner or maybe a petty knight. Both parents were of Norman ancestry. The family lived off the rents generated from their land holdings and Gilbert served as sheriff of the city at some point. Thomas was able to spend time at estates in Sussex at the home of a wealthy family friend.
Thomas began his formal education at Merton Priory at age ten. He also attended grammar school in London. He did not study beyond the trivium and quadrivium at these schools (the seven general subjects of a well-rounded education of the time). At age 20, he spent time in Paris. Around this time, his father suffered some financial difficulties and Thomas was compelled to earn his living as a clerk. Eventually he came to work for Theobald of Bec, then the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was entrusted with several missions including being sent to Rome and to Bologna and Auxerre where he finally was able to study canon law.
In 1154 Thomas was named as Archdeacon of Canterbury. This important position led him to the attention of King Henry II and Theobald recommended Thomas for the position of Lord Chancellor for the King who appointed him in January 1155. In that capacity, Thomas enforced the collection of rents for the king, both from secular and religious landowners. Thomas was made Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162. Henry was hopeful that the new Archbishop would continue to put country before God, but Thomas instead made a shift to the ascetic life. Thomas was not ordained as a priest until a couple weeks after he was confirmed as Archbishop.
As Thomas continued to put the church before the King, the King became less enchanted with him. Henry continued to try to weaken the church and finally Thomas was officially asked to submit authority to the King or face repercussions. He refused. Thomas was summoned to appear before the King on a charge of contempt and when Thomas was convicted, he left the trial and fled to the continent. Six years later, Thomas was permitted to return to England and did so. Upon his return, he began to excommunicate his opponents. Henry found out about this and said something that was believed to have been an order of execution. Thomas was pursued, asked to come before the king, and when he refused, he was killed.
Remember the sufferings of Christ, the storms that were weathered… the crown that came from those sufferings which gave new radiance to the faith.
All saints give testimony to the truth that without real effort, no one ever wins the crown.
Many are needed to plant and water what has been planted now that the faith has spread so far and there are so many people.
No matter who plants or waters, God gives no harvest unless what is planted is the faith of Peter and unless he agrees to his teachings. – all from Thomas Becket
Also on this day:
December 28, 1912: The San Francisco Municipal Railway opens for business. It is the public transit system for the city and county of San Francisco, California. After the great earthquake of 1906, it was decided to merge all the independent transportation types into one system. Prior to the quake there had been many horsecar, cable car, and electric street car providers. They combined to form the United Railroads of San Francisco (URR). In 1909, voters approved a municipal rail line and Geary Street, Park & Ocean Railway was given the job of operating the system. In 1912, that privilege was revoked and the municipal system took over.
Soon after assuming control, the Muni system began to expand. By the end of 1914, the Stockton Street Tunnel under Nob Hill opened and travel from downtown to North Beach was possible. Slightly more than three years later, Twin Peaks Tunnel opened and travel to the southwestern part of the city was available. In 1928, the Sunset Tunnel opened and now the entire Market Street was open to Muni transportation. However, it was also still in use by the URR, putting the two lines, each with their own tracks, in direct competition.
In the 1940s the first trolleybuses were put into use. The URR had been taken over by the Market Street Railway Company and they were in trouble. In 1944, Muni acquired them. They took over both the equipment and the higher fare charged by them. When they first opened, it cost just five cents to ride, but now it cost seven cents. By the end of 1946, it was up to a dime. In the 1950s and 60s, the neighboring BART system was begun, first in the planning and eventually, by the implementation. There was competition between the two entities and by the 1990s, Muni was in trouble. However, they were able to recover from the Muni Meltdown.
Today, Muni operates 365 days a year with 731,400 weekday riders using the system. They are integrated but separate from BART, SamTrans, and AC Transit. They have 54 bus lines, 17 trolley lines, and 7 light rail lines that all run above ground. They have one subway tube with 3 cable car lines, as well. Today’s fares are $2 but one can buy a month pass for $62. If you would also like to have BART access, the price of the pass is increased to $72. The average speed of travel is 7 mph but that is not the top speed. Edward D. Reiskin is the Director of Transportation and the Chief Executive.
San Francisco is 49 square miles surrounded by reality. – Paul Kantner
San Francisco is perhaps the most European of all American cities. – Cecil Beaton
I always see about six scuffles a night when I come to San Francisco. That’s one of the town’s charms. – Errol Flynn
San Francisco is a golden handcuff with the key thrown away. – John Steinbeck
Also on this day:
Child’s Play – In 1973, Akron, Ohio stops their association with Box Car Derby after cheating becomes rampant.
Neptune – In 1612, Galileo observed the planet Neptune.
Poor Ben – In 1732, an ad for Poor Richard’s Almanack was run in Ben Franklin’s newspaper.
December 27, 1966: The Cave of Swallows is discovered. It is an open air pit cave located in the Minicipality of Aquismón, San Luis Potosi, Mexico. The Spanish name for the cave is Sótano de las Golondrinas which translates into English as Basement of the Swallows. Although this date is given for the discovery of the cave, it was known to the local Haustec people since prehistoric time. On this date, it was first documented by T.R. Evans, Charles Borland, and Randy Sterns. The name of the cave is predicated on the many different birds who make it their home, mostly white-collared swifts and green parakeets.
The elliptical mouth of the cave is on a slope of karst. Karst terrain is formed by the dissolution of layers of soluble bedrock, usually carbonate rock suck as limestone or dolomite. The mouth is 160 feet by 200 feet and is undercut around the entire perimeter. The cave widens into a room about 995 feet by 440 feet and is a freefall drop from the mouth of 1,215 feet at the highest point. All these numbers make it the largest known cave shaft in the world. It is also the second deepest pit in Mexico and the 11th deepest in the world. To get an idea of the size of this cave, the Chrysler Building in New York City could easily fit inside the cave.
The birds exit the cave by flying in circles until they reach the mouth of the cave and then can take off up into the sky. Each evening, a spectacle takes place when the swifts (especially) return to roost. A large flock of the birds returns to the cave and about every minute or so, about fifty of them break off and head toward the cave. They head straight down into the cave and as they pass the surface, they pull their wings in and freefall , extending their wings and pulling out of their dive as they reach the level of their nests. This spectacle has become a popular tourist attraction.
The cave itself is quite cool with low temperatures. The rim of the cave is thickly covered with vegetation and during rains, there will be waterfalls cascading from the rim into the cave. The floor is covered, logically enough, with a thick layer of guano and lots of insects, snakes, and spiders feed there. There is a narrow sinkhole in the fault line of the limestone floor where the bottom lies another 1,680 feet lower. The cave is now a vertical caving destination with many rappelling down from the lower side where bolts have been affixed to the outside edge. It takes about 20 minutes to reach the floor, unless one freefalls to his or her death, which would take only about ten seconds. It takes 40 to 120 minutes to climb back out.
If there hadn’t been women we’d still be squatting in a cave eating raw meat, because we made civilization in order to impress our girlfriends. – Orson Welles
One just principle from the depths of a cave is more powerful than an army. – Jose Marti
Houses mean a creation, something new, a shelter freed from the idea of a cave. – Stephen Gardiner
Every few thousand years some shepherd inhales smoke from a burning bush and has a vision or eats moldy rye bread in a cave and sees God. – Kerry Thornley
Also on this day:
Hagia Sophia – In 537, the Hagia Sophia was officially dedicated.
Coming into Port – In 1703, the Methuen Treaty was signed by Portugal and England.
Play Nice – In 1512, the Laws of Burgos were issued.
December 26, 2011: Cyclone Dagmar makes landfall. The storm was also called Cyclone Patrick by the Free University of Berlin, which is the semi-official source for all of the European Union. However, in Norway, it was called Dagmar and in Finland, it was called Tapani. Whatever its name, it formed rapidly when cold air moved south from Greenland and Arctic Norway and met with warm air moving north from the Azores and Iberia. The northward movement was facilitated by a swiftly moving jet stream. Moving almost due east, the storm came ashore in Norway on this day with wind gusts reaching up to 145 mph. The storm was listed as the third worst in Norway in the last fifty years.
Strong winds preceded actual landfall and a storm surge of 20 to 30 inches was also noted. Some of this rise in water level was due to a preceding storm, Cato (Oliver). As the front moved in and the whirling winds came over land, they dropped a significant amount of rain. Due to both the winds and the rain, a January 1, 2012 landslide in Trondheim was also attributed to this storm. No one was killed in the landslide, but fifty people were evacuated. The pier area of Trondheim suffered much damage as well. As hurricanes or cyclones often do, an F2 tornado was spawned and that was reported in Hellesylt, Norway.
Also damaged in the storm were 390 Telenor communication masts. This left 40,000 customers without cell phone or landline telephone connectivity. A tanker was disabled and set adrift northwest of Bergen. Luckily, the crew was able to restore power and they were able to ride out the storm without further incident. The Royal Dutch Shell’s Ormen Lange gas processing plant was not so lucky. It lost power and was unable to supply gas until power was restored. This did not only affect Norway, but the company supplies 20% of the UK’s gas.
After making landfall, the storm began to lose power. However, before it could completely dissipate, it also wreaked havoc in Sweden by dropping many trees which took down power lines. Some train traffic was completely stopped. The storm reached Finland and was their worst storm in ten years. Electricity was lost for thousands of customers. Trees not only took out power lines, but there was a report of an elderly man being killed by a falling tree. Estonia also lost power and had to rescue over 600 people as a result of the storm. In Russia, the St. Petersburg Dam gates were closed to protect the city. That action left 15 ships unable to enter the port. One of Russia’s nuclear plants needed to shut down a generator after dirty water was sucked into the works. Over $45 million (US dollars) damage was done overall.
Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain. – Vivian Greene
He turned to look just in time to see the rain start falling out as if the storm had finally decided to weep with shame for what it had done to them. – James Dashner
It takes a real storm in the average person’s life to make him realize how much worrying he has done over the squalls. – Bruce Barton
If you are strong enough, you can enjoy even in the middle of a storm! – Mehmet Murat ildan
Also on this day:
December 25, 1941: Admiral Chester W. Nimitz arrives at Pearl Harbor. On December 7, 1941 the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, inflicting great damage on the Pacific Fleet. At the time, there were eight battleships in the harbor. Four of them were sunk, three were damaged, and one was grounded. Two other ships were sunk, nine more were damaged. There were 188 aircraft destroyed and another 159 damaged. Husband Kimmel and Walter Short watched in horror as 2,402 were killed and 1,247 wounded. There were 57 civilians killed and 35 more wounded. The Japanese lost 5 submarines and 29 aircraft. There were 64 Japanese killed and one captured.
On December 17, Nimitz was selected as Commander in Chief of the US Pacific Fleet, effective December 31. He was flown out to Hawaii to relieve Adm. Kimmel of command. He was carried across the ocean aboard a PB2Y-2 Coronado, a four-engine plane which was a larger version of the PBY Catalina. The plane left San Diego in the early evening of December 24. It took 17.2 hours to fly from California to Hawaii. As the plane approached Pearl Harbor, Nimitz was invited by the pilot to the flight deck. They flew circles around the harbor, giving the admiral a chance to truly see the damage inflicted. Nimitz took command standing on the deck of the submarine USS Grayling. Normally this would have been done on the deck of a battleship, but all of them had been either sunk or damaged in the attack.
On March 24, 1942, a newly formed US-British Combined Chiefs of Staff decided that the Pacific Ocean would be America’s strategic responsibility. By the end of the month, the US had divided the Pacific into three separate theaters – the Pacific Ocean Areas (POA), the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA under the command of General Douglas MacArthur), and the South East Pacific Area. Nimitz was given the job of Commander in Chief over all areas with operational control over all Allied forces – air, land, and sea.
His first order of business after taking command was to build the fleet back to some form of operational strength. He successfully organized the restoration of ships, planes, and supplies and was able to mount an effective defense, and then an offense against the Japanese forces. He took the fight to the Japanese and defeated the navy forces at the Battle of the Coral Sea. He went on to the Battle of Midway, and pushed forward to the Solomon Islands Campaign. On December 14, 1944, Congress approved a new rank of Fleet Admiral of the United States Navy, the highest grade in the navy. The next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt bestowed the rank on Chester Nimitz.
He [Nimitz] took the time to shake the hand of every member of the crew and thank them for a comfortable flight and apologized to each for having taken them from their families on Christmas Day! What a giant of a man. What a great leader to take over the Pacific Fleet! – Captain Frank DeLorenzo
Those dirty bastards! Somehow, someway, we are going to make them pay! – Chester W. Nimitz, as the plane circled the harbor upon his arrive to Hawaii
God grant me the courage not to give up what I think is right even though I think it is hopeless. – Chester W. Nimitz
That is not to say that we can relax our readiness to defend ourselves. Our armament must be adequate to the needs, but our faith is not primarily in these machines of defense but in ourselves. – Chester W. Nimitz
Also on this day:
December 24, 1826: The Eggnog Riot (aka Grog Mutiny) breaks out at United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. Earlier versions of eggnog contained more than just rum. George Washington drank the beverage with sherry, brandy, whisky, and rum added. Many dairy farms in New England were happy to supply milk, cream, and eggnog to the public which gave the beverage a wider audience. By 1826, West Point was under the command of Sylvanus Thayer with 36 men on staff. Alcohol was prohibited on campus as was drunkenness and intoxication, both of which could lead to expulsion. Tobacco use and gambling were also punished, but only with demerits. The 260 cadets there caused faculty to be concerned with the amount of drinking among the student body.
On December 22, it was arranged for a half-gallon of whisky to be brought over to the school. The security guard, Private James Dougan, allowed Cadets William Burnley, Alexander Center, and Samuel Roberts to smuggle in the booze by boat. The three cadets managed to smuggle two gallons of whisky over to West Point’s North Barracks. Cadet T. Lewis also managed to get another gallon of whisky into the North Barracks. The plan was to hold a Christmas Eve party with eggnog as the beverage of choice.
Theyer himself held a Christmas party on December 23 for the staff. Both Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis were in attendance. There was wine at the faculty party. Some different cadets met at a tavern in the town and discussed daily life at the Academy, but they were gone before the Academy quartermaster arrived. Back in the North Barracks, party plans were being discussed. The cadets were sneaking food from the mess hall to include with their eggnog party.
On December 24, nine cadets in the North Barracks began their scheduled eggnog/Christmas party around ten PM. More cadets began to arrive. As more showed up, the illegal party got louder. This brought the men to the attention of those in command and they were told to be quiet and get to sleep at 2 AM on Christmas morning. By 4 AM there was enough noise that faculty administration got involved. Captain Hitchcock tried to break up the party and a small riot erupted. By the time reveille was played at 6:05 AM it was in competition with the gun fire, breaking glass, shouted profanities, and cries of pain. Things soon calmed down but by the next day, it was thought that between 50 and 90 cadets had participated in the debacle. An inquiry began in January 1827. Seventeen cadets were expelled and two more men had their rank reduced.
A man’s true character comes out when he’s drunk. – Charlie Chaplin
You’re not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on. – Dean Martin
Bacchus, n.: A convenient deity invented by the ancients as an excuse for getting drunk. – Ambrose Bierce
The worst thing about some men is that when they are not drunk they are sober. – William Butler Yeats
Also on this day:
The South Shall Rise Again – In 1865 six men began the KKK, then a simple social club.
Christmas – In 1777, James Cook discovered an uninhabited island in the Pacific.
Shhhhhh! – In 1818, Silent Night was written.
December 23, 1986: The Voyager lands at Edwards Air Force Base. The plane had been flown by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager. The designer of the plane was Burt Rutan after the three conceived of its design at lunch back in 1981. It took five years to build the plane out in Mojave, California. The plane was built for record breaking and was constructed of fiberglass, carbon fiber, and Kevlar. It weighed just 939 pounds when empty. Once the engines were added, the weight increased to 2,250 pounds. On the flight, it had to be fully loaded with fuel, for the goal of the flight was to make it around the world. With all the fuel aboard, it weighed in at 9,694.5 pounds.
Although the plane had been successfully tested back in July, it had been a much shorter flight lasting only 111 hours and 44 minutes. A test flight in September had to be aborted after a propeller blade mishap. New propellers were installed and successfully tested in November. The world record world trip began at 8:01 AM local time at Edwards Air Force Base on December 14. There were 3,500 witnesses as media personnel from around the world came to see the take-off. The fuel was stored in the wings which made them less resilient. As the plane taxied to gain airspeed and altitude, the wings scraped against the runway and caused damage to the tips. The weight distribution had never been an issue in any of the 67 test flights because Voyager had never been fully fueled before.
The plane slowly accelerated and it took 2.7 miles to gain enough speed for lift, but finally the plane was in the air. Because it was essential to cut weight, there was little room in the cockpit. The two pilots were cramped and they had planned to take turns with each flying for a three-hour shift. However, the plane was more difficult to handle than they had anticipated and this plan did not pan out. The plane flew, but there was constant pitch instability and the plane itself was quite fragile. This meant that flying through inclement weather was risky. They had to circle around the 600-mile-wide typhoon, Marge. Libya also refused to allow the plane in their air space, diverting the craft and using more fuel.
Despite all these hardships, the plane was nearing California and making it around the world. Just when it seemed everything would work out well, one of the fuel pumps failed. The pilots were able to overcome this by pumping fuel from the other side of the aircraft. They managed to land in front of 55,000 spectators with touch down at 8:06 AM on this day, nine days, three minutes, and 44 seconds after take-off. They traveled 24,986 miles and their average speed was 116 mph. They had 106 pounds of fuel left in the tanks which was only about 1.5% of the fuel they started with. They had made it. They had circumnavigated the planet, crossed the equator twice, and made their non-stop, non-refueled flight around the world.
Adventure is the essence of life.
Anything that happened to the others could happen to us.
The space domain for manned spaceflight is no longer the domain of a huge bureaucracy spending billions of dollars. We can do it privately.
The trajectory was good, the roll was off. I was worried. That wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. – all from Dick Rutan
Also on this day:
Jolly Old Elf – In 1823, Twas the Night Before Christmas was first published.
Survivor, The Real Story – In 1972, the Andes flight disaster finally comes to an end.
Tokyo Tower – In 1958, Tokyo Tower was dedicated.
December 22, 1937: The Lincoln Tunnel opens. Originally called the Midtown Vehicular Tunnel, the planners opted to give the structure a bit more cachet. In keeping with the George Washington Bridge, they named the tunnel after Abraham Lincoln. The 1.5 mile long tunnel connects Weehawken, New Jersey with Manhattan, New York City via a pathway under the Hudson River. It was designed by Ole Singstad and was funded by the New Deal’s Public Works Administration. The first or central tube was the first to be built and construction began in March 1934. It opened on this day and charged users fifty cents per passenger car. The construction cost of this first tube was $85,000,000 (about $4.15 billion today).
Originally designed as two tubes, construction on the second tube was halted in 1938 and resumed in 1941. But because of a shortage of materials due to World War II, it was not completed until 1945. The construction cost of the second tunnel was $80,000,000 (about $2.2 billion today). On February 1, 1945, Michael Catan (known as Mr. First after attending over 525 opening day events) was chosen to lead the way through the newly opened tube. Eventually it was noted that a third tube would be helpful and after much negotiation, it was built and opened on May 25, 1957. It was south of the original two tubes. They are all side by side on the New Jersey side, but this third tube is a block away on the New York side.
The toll for cars using the (eastbound) tunnel today is $12 if using cash and with E-ZPass it is $9.50 during peak hours and $7.50 for off-peak hours. There are about 110,800 daily users of the tunnels that are 21.5 feet wide (each tunnel has two lanes) with a vertical clearance of 13.5 feet. They are maintained by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. This year will mark the 75th anniversary of the tunnel opening. The Holland Tunnel in nearby New Jersey is ten years older. Both tunnels are prime terrorist targets and therefore require some extra monitoring.
The center tube has one traffic lane called XBL for exclusive bus lane during rush hours. During the morning rush hour, the central tunnel is only in the direction toward Manhattan. During the evening rush hour, the central tunnel is only New Jersey bound. Outside of rush hours, traffic flows in both directions in the central tunnel. Tolls are collected on the New Jersey side without collections on the return trip. Each morning rush hour sees about 1,700 buses and 62,000 commuters using this monumentally busy artery.
Traffic signals in New York are just rough guidelines. – David Letterman
Americans will put up with anything provided it doesn’t block traffic. – Dan Rather
Traffic is only one of the side effects of growth. – Roy Barnes
I’m the worst person to be stuck with in a traffic jam. – Larry King
Also on this day:
March to the Sea – In 1864, General Sherman finished his march into Savannah, Georgia.
First PM – In 1885, Ito Hirobumi became the first Prime Minister of Japan.
Fly Ash – In 2008, the TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant’s dike collapsed.