There are 2,027 bridges in NYC.
              I'm trying find all of them.
                         And then cross all of them.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Marine Parkway Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge

Only 2,015 more to go...


As seen from the Rockaway Peninsula.

Spans: Brooklyn to Queens, The Rockaway Inlet of Jamaica Bay

The Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge is a vertical lift bridge that crosses the Rockaway Inlet of Jamaica Bay, connecting the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens with Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. It is one of very few toll bridge in NYC, and carries four motor traffic lanes and a (free) 5’ wide foot/cyclepath on the western edge.


Built under the auspices of the Marine Parkway Authority in 1937, the bridge was designed by Aymar Embury II, who was also the architect of the Bronx-Whitestone and Triborough Bridges. In 1978, the bridge was renamed for Gil Hodges, the former first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Hodges retained his relationships in Brooklyn after the team moved to Los Angeles, later played for the New York Mets, and then managed them from 1968 until his death in 1972. We do love our baseball in NYC.

In 1938, the bridge’s first full year of operation, 1.9 million vehicles crossed the bridge; in 2006, 7.8 million did. The vertical lift was raised 157 times in 2006 to allow vessels to pass through the Rockaway Inlet. The center span is 540 feet long and is only 55 feet above the water but can be lifted up to a height of 150' feet above the water. When it opened, the bridge had the longest vertical lift span in the world; it is still the longest vertical lift span for vehicular traffic in North America.
Bridge Information from MTA info


Both ends of the bridge today are within the Gateway National Recreation Area connecting Floyd Bennett Field and Jacob Riis Park. Bridge traffic surges by more than 50 percent during the summer as city dwellers make their way to the beach.


Seen in the distance from the Shore Parkway

The M.T.A. offered this historical tidbit in a news release commemorating the Bridge’s 70th Anniversary:

The morning of July 3, 1937, marked the grand opening of the new Marine Parkway Memorial Bridge. With the sun shining and the N.Y.P.D. Police Band ready to play, Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia, Robert Moses, head of the Marine Parkway Authority and city Parks Commissioner and other officials, were getting ready to embark in a 500-car motorcade to christen the bridge.
There was excitement in the air as the band tuned up from its designated place on the bridge’s elevated lift span and invited guests got into cars on the Brooklyn side of the bridge along Flatbush Avenue for the inaugural ride across the span.
But the first vehicle to cross the bridge did not belong to the mayor or master builder Robert Moses, who helped make the bridge a reality. About 15 minutes before the ceremonies were scheduled to start, the first vehicles to cross the span were three engine companies from Brooklyn; summoned to help put out a five-alarm fire that destroyed two blocks of wooden concession stands along the Rockaway Beach Boardwalk.
Even before its official opening, the bridge proved it was an asset to the community. Mayor La Guardia pointed out that if the bridge wasn’t there, it would have taken the Brooklyn fire companies precious minutes to travel to the old Cross Bay Bridge, four miles to the east.
The Police Band, which scrambled off the lowered lift before the fire trucks screamed across the bridge, resumed their post and the ceremony went on as planned. A gun salute from nearby Fort Tilden announced the beginning of the event, which included a fireboat pumping streams of water into the air and a flyover by nine Martin bomber planes from nearby Mitchel Field.
Today, during the anniversary celebration, a Rockaway Point Volunteer Fire Department truck led the motorcade, the authority said, “in a nod to history.”

Quoted from the NY Times


View of Coney Island with the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in the distance from the center span of the bridge.

Toll info Effective March 16, 2008

Cash $2.50

Token $1.67

E-Zpass $1.55

Rockaway Resident Token $1.40

Rockaway Resident E-Zpass $1.03

Toll Information from MTA info

Type of bridge: Vertical lift-span
Construction started: June 1, 1936
Opened to traffic: July 3, 1937
Length of main lift-truss span: 540 feet
Length of side truss spans: 540 feet
Total length of bridge and approaches: 4,022 feet
Number of traffic lanes: 4 lanes
Clearance at lift span above mean high water: 55 feet
Clearance at lift span in raised position: 150 feet
Steel used in through truss spans and towers: 7,600 tons
Steel used in deck truss spans: 3,800 tons
Concrete used in truss piers: 24,000 cubic yards
Concrete used in deck truss spans: 23,000 cubic yards
Cost of original structure: $12,170,000

Bridge Statistics from NYCRoads

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Berenice Abbott

Changing New York: Photographs by Berenice Abbott, 1935-1938
From the NYPL Digitial Collection

The Brooklyn Bridge as seen by Berenice Abbott in 1936.

B Water Dock


The Brooklyn Bridge photographed from Water Street in 2008

"Photographer Berenice Abbott proposed Changing New York, her grand project to document New York City, to the Federal Art Project (FAP) in 1935. The FAP was a Depression-era government program for unemployed artists and workers in related fields such as advertising, graphic design, illustration, photofinishing, and publishing. A changing staff of more than a dozen participated as darkroom printers, field assistants, researchers and clerks on this and other photographic efforts. Abbott's efforts resulted in a book in 1939, in advance of the World's Fair in Flushing Meadow NY, with 97 illustrations and text by Abbott's fellow WPA employee (and life companion), art critic Elizabeth McCausland (1899-1965). At the project's conclusion, the FAP distributed complete sets of Abbott's final 302 images to high schools, libraries and other public institutions in the metropolitan area, plus the State Library in Albany.

Abbott was born and raised in Ohio where she endured an erratic family life. In 1918, after two semesters at Ohio State University, she left to join friends associated with the Provincetown Players, in Greenwich Village. There she met Djuna Barnes, Kenneth Burke, Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Little Review editors Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap, and other influential modernists. From 1919-1921, while studying sculpture, Abbott supported herself as an artist's model, posing for photographers Nikolas Muray and Man Ray. She also met Marcel Duchamp, and participated in Dadaist publications.

Abbott moved to Paris in 1921, where she continued to study sculpture (and in Berlin), and to support herself by modeling. During 1923-1926, she worked as Man Ray's darkroom assistant (he had also relocated to Paris) and tried portrait photography at his suggestion. Abbott's first solo exhibition, in 1926, launched her career. In 1928 she rescued and began to promote Eugène Atget's photographic work, calling his thirty years of Parisian streetscapes and related studies "realism unadorned. "

In 1929 Abbott took a new artistic direction to tackle the scope (if not the scale) of Atget's achievement in New York City. During 1929-38, she photographed urban material culture and the built environment of New York, documenting the old before it was torn down and recording new construction. From 1934-58, she also taught photography at the New School. During 1935-39, Abbott worked as a "supervisor" for the Federal Art Project to create Changing New York (her free-lance work and New School teaching commitment made her ineligible for unemployment relief) .

1970 saw Abbott's first major retrospective exhibition, at the Museum of Modern Art. Her first retrospective portfolio appeared in 1976, and she received the International Center of Photography's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1989. She died at home in Monson, Maine in December 1991."

Quoted from The NYPL Digital Gallery

For a non bridge specific view of Abbott's work, see both the original, Berenice Abbott: Changing New York and Douglas Lefevre's New York Changing: Revisiting Berenice Abbott's New York

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Williamsburg Bridge

Only 2,016 more to go...


Looking towards Brooklyn from the East River

Spans - Manhattan-Brooklyn, East River
Delancey Street, LES to Broadway, Williamsburg Brooklyn.

Construction on the bridge began in 1896, and the bridge opened on December 19, 1903. Leffert L. Buck was chief engineer and Henry Hornbostel was architect. It was the second bridge to span the East River in NYC and at the time it was constructed, it set the record for the longest suspension bridge span on Earth which it took from it's neighbor, the Brooklyn Bridge, which had held the title for 17 years.

Wrapping cables, Williamsburg ... Digital ID: 800575. New York Public Library

Wrapping Cables on the Williamsburg Bridge - From the NYPL Collection

"It is an unconventional structure, as suspension bridges go; though the main span hangs from cables in the usual manner, the side spans leading to the approaches are cantilevered, drawing no support from the cables above. The main span of the bridge is 1600 feet (488 m) long. The entire bridge is 7308 feet (2227 m) long between cable anchor terminals, and the deck is 118 feet (36 m) wide. The height at the center of the bridge is 135 feet (41 m) and each tower is 335 feet (102 m); these measurements taken from the river's surface at high water mark.

This bridge and the Manhattan Bridge are the only suspension bridges in New York City that still carry both automobile and rail traffic. In addition to this two-track rail line, connecting the New York City Subway's BMT Nassau Street Line and BMT Jamaica Line, there were once two sets of trolley tracks."


"For a brief period, the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) ran passenger service along an elevated extension across the Williamsburg Bridge into Manhattan. The LIRR spur split from the existing Atlantic Avenue line northwest onto the Broadway elevated line (today's J, M and Z subway lines), crossed the Williamsburg Bridge, and continued south to Chambers Street.

The bridge not only served the traffic needs of a growing population, but also greatly affected migration patterns of ethnic groups. Before the bridge opened, first- and second-generation Irish and German settlers (who called the enclave "Kleine Deutschland") lived in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. When it opened, an influx of Jewish settlers from the overcrowded Lower East Side crossed the "Jews' Bridge" into Williamsburg. In turn, long-time residents moved out to Queens.

As early as 1964, The New York World-Telegram and Sun reported that the bridge had fallen in such a state of disrepair that rust rained down on pedestrians. The only fresh paint was the graffiti scrawled in by vandals. During the 1970's, the pedestrian walkways were closed after a maintenance worker was mugged while doing his job."


In the 1980's, the Bridge was in terrible condition after years of neglect and the City's near bankruptcy during the 1970's. It was closed completely for emergency repair work and for many years following was under constant renovation which impacted traffic in one direction or the other. Trains were re-routed and followed a strict speed limit when crossing the bridge. In 1999 service halted entirely to allow repairs on the center lanes of the bridge which carry train traffic.


"The Williamsburg Bridge is one of the major crossings of the East River, carrying approximately 140,000 motorists, 92,000 subway/bus riders, 600 bikers and 500 pedestrians between the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn and serving some of the busiest arteries in New York City."


View of the Pedestrian and Bike Pathway Entrance on Delancey Street in Manhattan.

"The new footpath/bikeway has one common access point for pedestrians and cyclists in Manhattan at Clinton Street, which leads to a crossover before the main span of the bridge to enable people to access either the north or south paths. The north path is open to both pedestrians and bicyclists and leads to an access point at Washington Park in Brooklyn. The south path is dedicated to pedestrians an leads to an access point at Bedford Avenue. Completion of the new north walkway also means that, for the first time ever, the bridge is accessible to wheelchair users and meets the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act."

One of my favorite little NY hidden gems is the fact that the pedestrian and bike paths end at Roebling Street on the Brooklyn side. That would be the street named after John A. Roebling, civil engineer and designer of the Brooklyn Bridge, which the Williamsburg Bridge superseded as the world's longest suspension bridge of it's time.

Type of bridge: Suspension
Construction started: November 7, 1896
Opened to traffic: December 19, 1903
Length of main span: 1,600 feet
Length of side spans: 300 feet
Length, anchorage to anchorage: 2,200 feet
Total length of bridge and approaches: 7,308 feet
Number of traffic lanes: 8 lanes
Number of subway tracks: 2 tracks
Height of towers above mean high water: 310 feet
Clearance at center above mean high water: 135 feet
Number of cables: 4 cables
Length of each of four cables: 2,985 feet
Diameter of each cable: 18¾ inches
Total length of wires: 17,500 miles
Weight of cables and suspenders: 4,344 tons
Structural material: Steel
Tower material: Steel
Deck material: Steel
Cost of original structure: $24,200,000

Bridge statistics from nyc

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