The Steinway Tunnel carries the 7 and <7> trains of the New York City Subway under the East River between 42nd Street in Manhattan and 51st Avenue in Long Island City, Queens, in New York City. It was originally designed and built as an interurban trolley tunnel , with stations near the current Hunters Point Avenue and Grand Central stations of the 7 and <7> trains. It is named for William Steinway, who was a major promoter of its construction, although he died in 1896 before it was completed.
The first plans to dig a railway tunnel under the East River, date back to the year 1885. On December 22, the East River Tunnel Railroad Company was founded. Its objective was to connect the Long Island Rail Road 's tracks in Long Island City and the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad's tracks in the City of New York in the same tunnel. At that time period, movement through the New York metropolitan area was hampered by many large, nearly impassable bodies of water, figuratively cutting the different regions apart from each other . In addition, plans to build the Queensboro Bridge were stagnant at the time. However, the East River Tunnel Railroad Company went defunct, and so on July 22, 1887, Walter S. Gurnee and Malcolm W. Niven founded the New York and Long Island Railroad Company , and soon began planning for the tunnel.
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