17 thoughts on “Sewer Workers, circa 1950

  1. from the shape, they must be working on one of the city’s old brick sewers. a sewer worker recently told me they were in one in chinatown, and found chinese writing on many of the bricks, left by the builders. many of these sewers are still in perfect shape (not the one he was working on that day, though!).

  2. Love the detail of drilled off forepoles. Look at the floor, Easy digging but awful loose stuff they tunneling thru…

  3. Lots of open questions here. First this is not necessarily a sewer. It could be a utility tunnel or a stream diversion. Although bricks are being used as support spacers the tunnel is wood lined. Red wood would be a popular choice although by this date treated wood would be an option however, the workers clothing shows no evidence of creosote stains. James Wood is absolutely correct the workers job title is miner/laborer heavy construction. The loose soil would seem favor a flood plain location but where.
    Great photo.

  4. Given the vintage it’s almost certainly one of the Sewer Interceptor tunnels built in the early 50’s on both sides of the river. They had to build these to connect the existing sewers to the new Sewage Treatment Plant. Probably the Peninsula Tunnel.

  5. Brian R’s photo above: the guy on the left looks like Art Carney, “Norton” of The Honeymooners, who was a NYC sewer worker. This photo pre-dates the show.

  6. I showed the photo to my husband, who’s a “whiz” with movie trivia, and he thinks the other guy is Jackie Gleason, and the scene is from “The Honeymooners.” We just confirmed it — here’s another shot of the same episode:

    (Thanks to Brian R. for the instructions on how to post images!)

  7. Hmm. I see that the URL-to-image maneuver didn’t work, after all. Brian R., can you see what I might have done wrong?

  8. Born too soon I guess. Just an aside. You could get $425 a pair for those Levis at Nordstrom today and the mud is real.

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