The O'Rourke Construction and Engineering Company excavated the
foundations for many buildings and railroad tracks in New York
City. Projects documented by this collection date between the
years of 1896 to 1913. The projects documented by this collection
show the company's' specialization in demolition of older buildings
and excavation of foundations for new buildings. Some time before
1907, the name of the company changed from The Stephens and O'Rourke
Engineering and Construction Company. The company was sometimes
called the "John F. O'Rourke Consulting Contracting" and "John
R. O'Rourke Co, Engineer". The offices of the company were for
some time located on Park Row. In 1910 the company was maintaining
a plant at 33rd Street and 11th Avenue.
buildings that the company excavated the foundations for were:
The New York Stock Exchange (1901), Hanover Bank (1901), the Altman
Building (1905), and the Municipal Lodging House (1907). The company
also appears to also been involved in demolition of buildings.
Some photographs show buildings that appear to have been prepared
was involved in various railroad construction projects. Starting
in 1903, the O'Rourke company began work on a job to excavate
tracks and yards for the NY Central Railroad's proposed new tracks.
This work included excavation of a yard running along Fifth and
Lexington Avenues. In May of 1907, citing difficulties with the
NY Central RR, the O'Rourke company withdrew from its contract.
the O'Rourke company was awarded the contract for their most famous
project: the excavation of railroad tunnels running under the
Hudson river. The construction of the "North River Tunnels" run
from Weehawken and North Bergen, New Jersey into Manhattan allowed
Pennsylvania RR and other trains to run directly into New York.
They were also hired to excavate the site of Pennsylvania station,
and excavation of the lines of tracks running from 57th to 42nd
street on the west side.
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE
The collection of photographs documents projects of the company
dated between 1895 and 1913. The photographs show successive stages
of each projects as well as events such as cave ins and building
collapses. The photographs also document buildings and streets
adjacent to project areas. Especially well documented is Ninth
avenue and West 32nd street (box 6). The collection consists only
of photographs; there is no written documentation of the company
other than the captions on the photographs.
is identified by project(sometimes only by initials) dated and
numbered. The photographs are grouped by project and arranged
by photograph number. The earlier photographs are albumen prints,
later photographs are both albumen and silver print. Linen backing
and attached stubs indicate that the photos were at some time
cut out of albums.
Many of the
buildings have not been identified or are only identified by street
or by initials on the caption of the photograph. These buildings
might be identified by named adjacent buildings or associated
streets (boxes 1-3, 6). Some captions also identify the initials
of the architectural firm.
contains photographic documentation of the early phases of the
job ("Grand Central Yard improvements" in box 2). Included are
pictures of Sunnyside Yards. A few streets and houses along the
tracks on the east side were also photographed.
half of the collection documents the Pennsylvania Railroad project,
especially the construction of the "North River Tunnels" under
the Hudson River (box 4-6).
Donated by Saul I. Heller to the Library Learning Center in 1974
as part of the Heller Collection of Transportation Photographs
(available at LIU Library):
"The Pennsylvania Extends its Rails to Manhattan Island." Centennial
History of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. New York: Arno Press,
The Story of Tunnels. pp. 146-49.
New Building." The New York Times. April 19, 1903.
Will Build Pennsylvania Tunnel: New York Firm gets Contact for
North River Section." New York Times." March 12, 1904.
Drops N. Y. Central Job: O'Rourke Company Withdraws from Building
the New $70,000,000 Terminal." The New York Times. May 29, 1907.
Care and Handling Note: These early photographs
are especially susceptible to light, and should be protected from
unnecessary exposure to light. All photographs should be handled
only while wearing white cotton gloves (available from LIU Special
[unidentified building] 1895-99 [63rd and Madison]
LB 1898 ("Stephens & O'Rourke")
H & S 1898
McC. Building, 1899
GIB, 1899-1900 [RR trestle bridge]
AMI Building, C&R Architects, 1900 [Atlantic Mutual Addition?
Located near Wall Street]
New York Stock Exchange, 1901
[unidentified pier, quarry] c1890-1900s
[unidentified bridge] c1890-1900s
Hanover Bank, 1901
Century Building, 1901
Grand Central Yard Improvements, 1904-05
North River Terminal, PRR, 1904
Altman Building, T&L Architects, 1905 [Next to Knoedler Gallery]
Municipal Lodging House, 1907
[Unidentified building], 1910
Manhattan Plant, 33rd and 11th Ave, 1910
20 East 12th Street, 1909
Test for John Downey, Hubert and West Streets, 1910
Stewart Building, 1911
EIS Bank, R.F.A, Architect, 1909 [Fifth Ave?]
Butler Building, 1910
80 Maiden Lane, 1911
[unidentified building], 1913
Hubert Street Building, John Downey, 1910
WB Exchange, C&R Architects, 1909
Whitehall Building, 1910
[Unidentified Warehouse] (#D-1-12)
PRR Tunnels, NRD View in NYCRR yard, 1905 (#D-13-17)
PRR Tunnels, NRD Section-GJ Fowler Warehouse, 1906 (#D18-25)
PNY&LIRR Terminal 427 West 31st Street, 442 West 42nd Street,
PRR Tunnels, NR Div Gy East, 1907 (#D32a-d)
PRR Tunnels, NR Div, Weehawken Shaft, Emslie Stable, 1907 (D33-35)
PT&TRR Terminal Station, West, 1907 (#D36-45)
PRR Tunnels NR Div, 1909 (#D46-63)
PT&TRR Co. NR Div, Manhattan Shaft, 1910 (#D-64-65)
PRR Tunnels, NRD Sect Gy East, W 32nd Street, 1906 (D-101-118a)
NRD. Bergen Hill Tunnels, 1905 (#K-3-45)
PRR Tunnels NRD Sect. K,-Weehawken Shaft, 1906 (#K-46-93)
PRR Tunnels, NR Div. Sect. Gy West, Rebuilding Pier 72, 1909 (F-1-22)
PRR Tunnels, NR Div. Sect Gy-Span Twin Tunnel, 1907 (#L-185-99)
PRR Tunnels, NR Div Sect Gy. Weehawken Tunnel, 1907 (#L-201-230)
PRR Tunnels, NR Div. Sect. Gy East, 1908 (#L-231-251)
PRR Tunnels, Davis-Calyx Drill, 1902 (#B-2-7)
PRR Tunnels, NR Div. Sect Gj River Tunnel- Weehawken, 1906-07
PRR Tunnels, Pier 62 (#B-83-108)
Cement Testing Equipment and Labs (#B-109-112, B-123-143)
NR Div. 1905 (#B-144-150)
NRD Field Offices 1905 (#B-151-156)
Ninth Avenue, West 32nd Street [RR Construction], c1905? (B-156-1
Sunnyside Yards, 1910 (#3111-40)
West 32nd Street [RR construction], c1904? (#2-32)
PRR Tunnels-NR Division-Weehawken Shaft, 1903, (SH50-69)
Grace Building, 1912
[unidentified building in midtown] 1912 (#1-20)
W-L Building, 1911
By: Ellen Belcher