[08/21/08 - 10:22 AM]
Beneath New York Is a World That Few Know Exists and the Men Who Toil in ObscuritY... Sandhogs
History's latest original series premieres Sunday, September 7 at 10:00/9:00c.

[via press release from History]

Beneath New York is a World that Few Know Exists and the Men who Toil in Obscurity... SANDHOGS

A New "American Originals" Series on History� Premieres Sunday, September 7 at 10pm ET/PT

11 Episode Series Focuses on the Men and Projects Integral to Maintaining New York City's Infrastructure

For more than 150 years, a legendary band of mostly unknown urban miners has toiled in obscurity far below the streets of New York, risking their lives to enable the daily workings of the world's most well-known city. They are the builders of water and sewage tunnels, subway systems and bridge footings, all of which are the most crucial and underappreciated elements of the city's infrastructure. Their union, leadership and brotherhood reflect the age-old spirit of the American dream. Their history and work is revealed in the new weekly "American Originals" series, SANDHOGS, premiering Sunday, September 7 at 10pm ET/PT on History�.

The Sandhogs work in conditions so dangerous that they lose an average of a man a mile, but they never back down from the work that needs to be done. Their dedication is based on a brotherhood that has been handed down through the generations, and which lives on today. While the work is just as dangerous as it was a hundred years ago, big strides and improvements have made the job safer over time; but many of the Sandhogs' century-old working methods are still used.

Today is a golden age for Sandhogs as they are working on a number of projects that are essential to the future lifeblood of New York City. The series takes a look at four important projects:

Water Tunnel Number 3 - The city's third water tunnel, began in 1970, and scheduled to be completed by 2013, is the largest public works construction project in the history of New York City.

Croton Water Filtration Plant � This will connect a water tunnel originally built in 1890 to the plant, filtering some of New York's water supply for the first time.

East Side Access � This enormous undertaking will provide Long Island Rail Road service to Grand Central Terminal for 160,000 customers a day. The new connection will among other things increase the LIRR's capacity into Manhattan, dramatically shorten travel time for Long Island and eastern Queens commuters traveling to the east side of Manhattan and provide a new commuter rail station in Sunnyside, Queens.

7 Subway Line Extension � This key project plan will extend the IRT Flushing Subway Line, which carries the # 7 service, westward from its current terminus at Times Square and is intended to aid redevelopment of the west side of Midtown Manhattan.

Sandhogs focuses on the workers, the current projects and the history and legacy of these extraordinary men. Among the Sandhogs featured in the series are:

Chickie Donohue - Chickie, age 67, born and raised in Inwood, on the northern tip of Manhattan Island, joined the marines at 17 and after his four-year tour he became a merchant seaman sailing the high seas. Soon after, Chickie became a Sandhog and he eventually rose through the ranks to become head of their political action committee. They even figured out how to send him to Harvard, where he not only received a master's degree, but also, became president of the student government. Chickie's last official job title was hoghouse man (making coffee and mopping floors). His unofficial job is union rainmaker. Now, near retirement, Chickie must begin to ponder life without the Sandhogs. Worse, the Sandhogs must begin to consider life without Chickie.

Morgan Curran - Morgan, age 57, is the Walking Boss on the swing shift, at the Croton Filtration Tunnel job. Born and raised in Connemara, Ireland, Morgan left school after 6th grade and began working full time in construction. He began his career as a miner in London at age 16, and moved to The Bronx three years later, where he had his first taste of New York's tunnels. Morgan's reputation as a tunnel worker grew over the next four decades, on jobs from Baltimore to Boston. He returned to New York in 2005, as a foreman sinking a 600 shaft for Water Tunnel Number Three. Morgan is known as one of the best miners around. His specialty is working with dynamite and blasting.

Richie Fitzsimmons - Richie, age 48, is the Business Manager of Local 147. He's been a sandhog for 30 years and is also a trained electrician. Fitzsimmon's father was the renowned leader of the Sandhogs for more than three decades. Under "the Old Man's" leadership the working conditions in the tunnels were dramatically improved and he was seen as a hero to his fellow hogs. Richie has taken his father's place and strives to live up to his father's legacy as a great labor leader. Whether he is negotiating new contracts or making sure safety rules are enforced on the tunnels site, Ritchie is totally dedicated to serving the needs of his members.

Little Richie Fitzsimmons - Little Richie, age 21, is beanpole thin, but well over six feet tall and getting stronger every day. He's been working in the tunnels every summer for years and is already making a name for himself in the hole. Richie is at a crossroads, though. He's supposed to go back to college. Will he leave the world of sweat, mud and water, of male camaraderie and decades of the family business? Or, will he eschew the white-collar world for life as a Sandhog?

Ryan McGinty - Ryan is a shift boss on the 7 Subway Line Extension, in Manhattan. He's the foreman on the day shift on the 25th Street shaft. This is the shaft that will become the entrance to the job. They have already blasted about 100 feet down and will soon begin turn the corner and begin horizontally, creating the tunnel. Ryan joined local 147 and became a Sandhog in October, 1997. The first sandhog in his family, he learned about the union through a childhood friend, whose father was head of the union and whose brother is still. Ryan graduated college, with a degree in sociology, but midway through school, he'd begun shaping as a hog, and he knew that his diploma would forever simply be a backup plan. Ryan worked for years on Water Tunnel #3, making a name for himself as a young shift boss driving several of the 600 foot deep shafts. In the past year, he's gotten two new tattoos: his eight month old child's feet, and the 147 logo. "These tattoos show my two families. Nothing else in the whole world means more to me than they do."

What does it take to be a Sandhog and maintain their legacy and pride? What is their history? What's it like deep down in the holes that go as far into the ground as Manhattan skyscrapers go high? What's your first day like? What does it take to survive intact? What happens when disaster strikes? Sandhogs burrows far beneath the concrete jungle to find out.

Sandhogs Executive Producer for History is Charles Nordlander. Executive Producer for Pilgrim Films and Television is Craig Piligian. Executive Producer for Eyepop Productions is Eddie Rosenstein.

History� and History HD� are the leading destinations for revealing, award-winning, original non-fiction series and event-driven specials that connects history with viewers in an informative, immersive and entertaining manner across multiple platforms. Programming covers a diverse variety of historical genres ranging from military history to contemporary history, technology to natural history, as well as science, archaeology and pop culture. Among the networks' program offerings are hit series such as Ax Men, Battle 360, The Universe, Cities of The Underworld and Ice Road Truckers, as well as acclaimed specials including King, Life After People, 1968 With Tom Brokaw, Lost Book of Nostradamus, Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed and Sherman's March. History has earned four Peabody Awards, three Primetime Emmy� Awards, 10 News & Documentary Emmy� Awards and received the prestigious Governor's Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for the network's Save Our History� campaign dedicated to historic preservation and history education. Take A Veteran to School Day is the network's latest initiative connecting America's schools and communities with veterans from all wars. History's website, located at www.History.com, is the definitive historical online source that delivers entertaining and informative content featuring broadband video, interactive timelines, maps, games podcasts and more.

  [august 2008]  


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