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An Urban Odyssey

There are 2,027 bridges in New York City. DOT’s Division of Bridges is responsible for the design, construction, maintenance and operation of the 787 bridges (including six (6) tunnels) and 67 culverts presently under the jurisdiction of the DOT!

MTA Bridges and Tunnels (formerly known as the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority) operates the following structures: Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge, Henry Hudson Bridge, Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, Queens Midtown Tunnel, Throgs Neck Bridge, Triboro Bridge, Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Metro North Railroad and the Long Island Railroad, both subsidiaries of the MTA, operates bridges and tunnels on their rail lines.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operate the following bridges and tunnels: Bayonne Bridge, George Washington Bridge, Goethals Bridge, Holland Tunnel, Lincoln Tunnel, Outerbridge Crossing.

The Queensboro Bridge carries the largest amount of daily traffic. On an average weekday some 180,369 vehicles crossed the celebrated cantilevered bridge between 59th Street in Manhattan and Long Island City in Queens. The Brooklyn Bridge had 137,563 vehicle crossings. The Williamsburg Bridge had 110,528 and the Manhattan Bridge had 70,129.

As of January 1, 1998, ten bridges in New York City had been awarded some degree of landmark status. They include seven that are under the jurisdiction of the New York City Department of Transportation: the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queensboro, Washington, University Heights, Carroll Street and Macombs Dam Bridges. The three landmarked bridges not operated by DOT are the George Washington Bridge (Port Authority of New York and New Jersey), Highbridge (NYC Department of Environment Protection), and Hell Gate Bridge (Amtrak).

New York’s first bridge, known as the King’s Bridge, was constructed in 1693. Fitted with stone abutments and a timber deck, it spanned Spuyten Duyvil Creek between Manhattan and the Bronx. It was demolished in 1917. The oldest bridge still standing in New York City is Highbridge, which spans the Harlem River between Manhattan and the Bronx, it was built in 1843.Highbridge is an aqueduct that carries a water main; it is not accessible to passengers of vehicles. The oldest bridge that is open to passengers and vehicles is the Brooklyn Bridge, which opened in 1883.

The four major bridges over the East River were constructed within four decades, from start of construction on the Brooklyn Bridge in December 1909. The Brooklyn Bridge, one of New York City’s most celebrated architectural wonders and arguably the most influential bridge in American history, was completed in 1883. Designed by John Augustus Roebling and completed by his son Washington Roebling, the Brooklyn Bridge was , at the time of its completion, the longest-suspension bridge in the world, with a main span of 1,595.5 feet. The Williamsburg Bridge, with its 35-storey steel towers, is the largest of the three suspension bridges that span the East River. When it was completed in 1903, it became the longest suspension bridge in the world, with a main span that is 1,600 feet long. The two-decked Queensboro Bridge is one of the greatest cantilever bridges in the history of American bridge design. It was completed in March 1909. The last of the great bridges constructed across the East River, the Manhattan Bridge, opened to traffic on December 31, 1909.


RW Jay Austin



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