When the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel (formerly Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel) opened in 1950, it was the longest continuous underwater vehicular tunnel in North America. It still is.
Two ventilation buildings in lower Manhattan, a third near the Brooklyn portal, and a fourth just off Governors Island provide a complete air change in the tunnel every one and a half minutes. The Battery Parking Garage in Manhattan was built as part of the tunnel project.
Construction was begun by the New York City Tunnel Authority in 1940, with the Triborough Bridge Authority assisting in the building of approach roads and in financing. The job took a decade, partly because of a three year delay caused by materiel shortages during World War II.
In 1946 the two authorities were consolidated, creating the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority.
The tunnel connects two boroughs rich in diversity. On the Brooklyn side is the community of South Brooklyn, comprising the Red Hook, Columbia Terrace, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, and Boerum Hill districts. These are neighborhoods of beautiful brownstones, bustling shops and restaurants, a busy port, and industrial areas. The Manhattan end of the tunnel leads to the Wall Street area, the South Street Seaport, City Hall/Civic Center, Battery Park City, the World Trade Center site, and the World Financial Center.