This 1920s postcard of the entrance to the Holland Tunnel looks like a Hollywood set, not real lower Manhattan.
The “tubes,” as they were known then, opened in November 1927 to incredible fanfare. The New York Times reported the next day:
“When the two flags had parted before the New York entrance, there surged beneath their drawn folds and on into the chill depths of the white-tiled, brilliantly lighted subaqueous thoroughfare, an almost solid mass of pedestrians eager to make the trip from shore to shore afoot.
“It was estimated that within an hour 20,000 or more persons had walked the entire 9,250 feet from entrance to exit, and the stream of humanity, thinning a little toward the last, continued to traverse the tunnel until 7 p.m., when it was closed until 12:01 a.m., the hour set for vehicular traffic to begin its regular, paid passage.”