The worker, in his 30s, fell 15 feet into a trench that partially collapsed around him around 5 p.m. The walls began to cave in and panic set in at the work site on 83rd Avenue in Kew Gardens, which had apparently been shut down earlier this year.
It took rescue workers more than three hours to pull the man, who had started to lose feeling in his legs, from the mud.
The man's colleagues tried for 90 minutes to get him out before deciding to call for help. Once the fire department arrived, they first had to sure up the trench to keep it from collapsing.
It took another two hours to free the man, who was apparently trapped in a substance with the consistency and suction of quicksand. The falling rain apparently did not help the situation.
Officials say the site is not even supposed to be in operation, as a stop work order was placed by the city's Department of Buildings back in February.
Now, several area residents are wondering why the work was allowed to go forward.
"Absolutely no permit," neighbor Ido Tuchman said. "We talked to the commissioner of the buildings department, and he says that's okay. And we're trying to put a stop to it, and this is the result, that you have all these people getting hurt with building run amuck in New York City."
The worker is listed in stable condition at Jamaica Hospital.