Working Harbor: Bridges


Until the latter part of the nineteenth century, ferries moved the inhabitants of the small towns of Queens and Brooklyn to Manhattan, the true city. By the end of the nineteenth century, Manhattan was the most densely populated place on the planet, with a population approaching 2,000,000.

The construction of the great bridges changed all of this . The Brooklyn Bridge, completed in 1883, opened Brooklyn for an exodus from Manhattan and the development of the Borough. The Williamsburg Bridge, completed in 1903, and the Manhattan Bridge, completed in 1909, became alternatives to the overburdened Brooklyn Bridge.

The Queensboro Bridge, completed in 1909, opened the way to the development of Queens.

The Hell Gate Bridge, a railroad bridge, followed in 1917. It linked the railroads of the city to the rest of the Northeast.

And finally, completed from 1939 to 1960, were the Tribourogh, Bronx-Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges, which were integral parts of Robert Moses's intricate expressway plans for moving automobiles.

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge (right) and Manhattan Bridge

No other bridge has become such a part of the American culture. The bridge was the first of the East River bridges to open, in 1883.

The bridge used steel suspension cables which stiffened the roadway and provided unmatched strength and stability.

The construction of the bridge is now legendary. Its designer, John Augustus Roebling, was fatally injured , and his son, Washington, fell victim to a case of the bends while working alongside his men sinking the western caisson in 1872. Washington continued to supervise the operation through a telescope from his room in Brooklyn while his wife relayed his instructions to workers and managers.

Manhattan Bridge

This bridge lies north of the Brooklyn Bridge and South of the Williamsburg Bridge. A steel suspension bridge, it was completed in 1909.

The Manhattan entrance, on Canal Street, is decorated with a grand arch and flanking colonnades.

Williamsburg Bridge

Williamsburg Bridge

The Williamsburg Bridge is a steel suspension bridge spanning the East River between Delancey Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and Marcy Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

It was completed in 1903, and was seen by thousands of Jewish immigrants fleeing the slums of the Lower East Side as a passageway to a better life in Williamsburg.

It was the first suspension bridge to use all steel towers. Its distinguishing features are steel stiffening trusses which extend between its anchorages, and give the bridge great strength, but an ungainly appearance.


Queensboro Bridge

Queensboro Bridge

Celebrated in movies and song, this 1909 masterpiece by Gustav Lindenthal (who built the Hell Gate Bridge) is the front door to the Borough of Queens. One of the most beautiful cantilever bridges built.




Hell Gate Bridge (foreground) and Triborough Bridge

Hell Gate Bridge

The Hell Gate Bridge over the East River in New York City is considered to be one of the world's most beautiful bridges. The crowning achievement of late 19th century bridge designer Gustav Lindenthal, the span also was the world's heaviest and longest steel arch bridge when completed in 1917.


Triborough Bridge

Three spans connect Manhattan and the Bronx with Queens. This 1936 tribute to Robert Moses is described by engineers as one of the most ambitious bridge designs ever attempted.!

The Triborough Bridge, Grand Central Parkway, Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, Queens Mid-Town Tunnel, and Long Island Expressway are among the many projects developed by urban planner Robert Moses. These projects made our community accessible to the automobile, but at the cost of dislocating thousands.

Bronx-Whitestone Bridge under construction

Bronx-Whitestone Bridge

This is steel suspension bridge that connects the Hutchison River Parkway in the Bronx with Whitestone in Queens. It was completed in 1939.

A few years later, it was connected to parkways in the Bronx and Queens. It greatly improved access between Long Island and Weschester county, and spurred a housing boom in the eastern part of Queens.

Throgs Neck Bridge

Throgs Neck Bridge

This is a steel suspension bridge connecting Throgs Neck in the Bronx with Bayside in Queens. It was completed in 1961 to relieve congestion on the Bronx-Whitestone bridge, two miles to the west.

The bridge is an important link in a system of highways connecting upstate New York, New Jersey, New England and Long Island.

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