Ralph Huggler, New York City, somewhere below Manhattan
By Interview by Jia Lynn Yang

(FORTUNE Magazine) – YOU HAVE TO BE ROUGH AROUND THE EDGES to do this work. All the subways, the big water tunnels, any tunnels underground, we built. In the early 1970s, it used to be said that you lose a man a mile. The mole--that's the tunnel-boring machine we use--has made it safer. It's like a giant drill bit. The main part of the machine is maybe 50 feet long and typically 20 feet in diameter. Right now I'm working on the Manhattan portion of Water Tunnel No. 3, a third tunnel to bring fresh water to the city from upstate. My father worked on No. 3. And now so do two of my sons. We're about 580 feet underground. If you mine all day, you can mine 50 to 60 feet. It gets in your blood. You end up working with a nucleus of the same guys and you stick together for ten or 15 years. Everybody knows everybody else. Everybody watches everybody else's back. It is dangerous. It's dark and damp. But we make the best of it. We usually have a good time. We have about 125 sandhogs going three shifts around the clock, five days a week. You can see what you're doing. You can see progress. Every day you're gonna go a little bit further. -- Interview by Jia Lynn Yang