The Steinway name can be found throughout Manhattan and the city’s outer boroughs, including an important subway tunnel linking Queens and Manhattan.
In 1885 a group of investors began planning a new tunnel railroad from north of Long Island City to Manhattan that would connect the Long Island Rail Road and the New York Central and Hudson River Railroads. For help on the financial side, the group approached William Steinway, already a prominent businessman and important figure in the metropolitan construction scene.
Steinway already owned an extensive amount of property in Long Island City as well as the Steinway and Hunter’s Point Railroad, a horse-car line. He was extremely interested in the new possibilities afforded by electricity and electric traction motors on the railways and insisted that the tunnel operate using electricity.
Shortly after construction began in 1892, a dynamite explosion killed 5 workers and injured 20 others as they attempted to work on the tunnel. Continual construction problems and the financial Panic of 1893 caused work on the tunnel to be halted. Few attempts were made to revive the project from then until Steinway’s death in 1896.
In 1902, investor August Belmont Jr. assumed control of the Steinway railroad and tunnel companies. A friend of the Steinways, Belmont breathed new life into the tunnel project and construction resumed.
After a period of erratic service between 1907 and 1915, the tunnels were bought by New York City and slowly reconstructed. Today, Steinway Tunnel carries the 7 train between Queens and Manhattan and is notable for being the first underwater passenger tube in New York City.