The Pulaski Skyway connecting Newark and Jersey City and used as a Gateway to the Holland Tunnel has a storied past. The Holland Tunnel was commissioned to be built in 1919 as the first complete thoroughfare that would connect New Jersey and New York. While the George Washington Bridge was discussed and debated since 1906, the New Jersey and New York legislation didn’t put it to a vote until 1925, approved it and construction started on the George Washington Bridge in 1927.

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ASSOCIATED PRESS ( Holland Tunnel being repaired in 1949)

With the Holland Tunnel came an unusually high volume of traffic through the streets of Jersey City to get to the tunnel, this additional traffic caused havoc on local and main streets throughout Jersey City. Jersey City wasn’t happy and you don’t want to upset Jersey City. Hudson County political boss Frank Hague stepped in and saw an opportunity to make many people happy while solving the big traffic issue in Jersey City.

YouTube via orpheus555
YouTube via orpheus555 (Frank Hague on left)

Hague gets the New Jersey legislature to pass a bill that will create a Route 1 extension calling it a super highway. A revised part of that legislature called for the span or bridge that would cross over the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers, Kearney Point and part of the Meadowlands. Overrun costs, labor disputes, union fights and biting off more than they could chew presented big problems for political boss Frank Hague. Like a kid with an endless piggy bank, Hague moved forward. The bridge was supposed to be wider but to save money it was narrowed.

YouTube via PolishConsulateNYC
YouTube via PolishConsulateNYC ( General Casimir Pulaski)

Hague spread the work out and had the construction companies fill the workforce with immigrant workers, mostly Polish immigrants, who would work harder and for less money. The bridge was named after a Polish nobleman General Casimir Pulaski who after serving in Poland came and joined the Continental Army and was credited for bringing marked cavalry skills to the Continental Army and was also responsible for saving George Washington’s life. It was said that the Polish immigrants were honored to help build the Pulaski Bridge which was named after Poland’s hero.

Pulaski Skyway
Pulaski Skyway (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

The Pulaski Bridge opened in 1932. Unpredictable travel patterns, high volume of traffic and initial use of subpar materials and construction short cuts made the Pulaski a headache to travel and put a major strain on its infrastructure. In 2014 the Pulaski underwent a $1 Billion update. A study back in 2016 said that an average of over 76,000 vehicles travel the Pulaski each day. The struggle to get it up and the manner in which it finally operates make the Skyway the toughest 3 mile road in New Jersey.

SEE: Painstaking labor to save the North River tunnel

Seven stories below street level in Weehawken, on the edge of the Hudson River, a race against time is being waged, foot by painstaking foot.


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