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Thread: Henry Hudson Bridge

  1. #1
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002

    Default Henry Hudson Bridge

    Henry Hudson Bridge Celebrates 75th Birthday

    By Carla Zanoni

    The Henry Hudson Bridge under construction in June 1936

    View from the Bronx with view of a small railroad bridge in the distance that belonged to
    Grand Central Railroad and today is used by Amtrak

    INWOOD — When the Henry Hudson Bridge was envisioned along with the parkway of the same name, the concern was helping motorists avoid the horses and railroad cars that clogged 11th Avenue.

    On Monday, the MTA is celebrating 75 years since the first vehicle crossed the span, the northernmost in Manhattan, which connects Inwood and The Bronx.

    The $5 million bridge, which opened to vehicular traffic on Dec. 12, 1936, was built as part of then-City Parks Commissioner Robert Moses’ West Side improvement project.

    The urban planner “envisioned a parkway that would allow cars to drive from the Battery to the Bronx without getting caught in 11th Avenue’s jumble of railroad trains and horses,” according to the MTA.

    The road to building the bridge was tough at first as Moses fought opposition from a group he called “parlor conservationists,” who objected removing a tulip tree in Inwood Hill Park in order to build the bridge’s parkway approach. A plaque commemorating the tulip tree now stands at the entrance of the natural forest in the park.

    Other opponents included drivers who fought the dime toll the bridge would charge, arguing that the span should be free like the nearby Broadway Bridge.

    To this day, drivers bypass the bridge to avoid the toll, now $5, favoring the Broadway Bridge instead as a path to The Bronx.

    The bridge, which features a scenic view of the Hudson River and the Palisades, received a second deck 18-months after it first opened in order to accommodate more traffic, according to the MTA.
    The agency is in the midst of a three-year, $33 million project to replace the original 1930s steel supports for the upper level roadway.

    In 2010, the authority completed an $86 million rehabilitation project that included replacing the original Depression-era lower level, Manhattan-bound roadway, the entire North approach structure at the Bronx end of the bridge, and refurbishing the pedestrian walkway.

    An historical exhibit celebrating the bridge at the Riverdale Public Library will open in the Bronx on Monday, Dec. 12. The month-long show will include more than a dozen photographs from the MTA's Depression-era collection.

    “The Henry Hudson Bridge links two important New York City communities and we hope that our neighbors from both Manhattan and Bronx communities will visit the library and share this important milestone,” said William McCann, the bridge’s general manager.

  2. #2


    I have an old map of Manhattan from the 19-teens that shows what became the Henry Hudson Bridge as "proposed". If you read the Power Broker Caro writes about how Moses was able to figure out how to get it built after 20-something years on the drawing boards which helped propel him into building more urban highways.

  3. #3
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    Henry Hudson Bridge is 75 years old; span led to the development of modern-day Riverdale

    Robert Moses built picturesque link from Manhattan to Bronx

    BY Tanyanika Samuels

    Simply put: if there wasn’t a Henry Hudson Bridge, there might not be a Riverdale - at least not as it exists now.

    “The bridge and the highway created modern day Riverdale,” said Bronx Historian Lloyd Ultan. “Without it, there wouldn’t have been the ease of travel to midtown Manhattan and developers wouldn’t have built those high-rise apartments.”

    The Henry Hudson Bridge turned 75 this week.

    When it was built, the bridge wasn’t intended to be the major thoroughfare that it is today.

    “The Henry Hudson was originally designed for leisurely weekend drives,” said MTA Bridges and Tunnels President Jim Ferrara, “but through the decades (it) has evolved into a vital transportation connection in the tri-state region.”

    In the early 20th century, Ultan said, city planners were thinking on a grand scale, envisioning a whole series of highways to connect the city to the suburbs.

    The original 1904 design for the Henry Hudson span called for an ornate steel bridge complete with columns and a statue of its namesake. It was to be completed in 1909 - the 300th anniversary of Hudson’s historic river voyage.

    But the city’s Municipal Art Commission shot down the idea, saying the plan was too elaborate.

    In the late 1920s, then City Parks Commissioner Robert Moses proposed building a parkway paralleling the Hudson River and a bridge to connect Manhattan to the Bronx.

    He later created the Henry Hudson Parkway Authority and issued bonds to help pay for the $5 million bridge.

    “This was all happening during the Great Depression however, and the banks were skeptical,” Ultan said. “They didn’t think there would be enough traffic for a two-deck bridge.”

    Moses got the banks to agree to giving $3 million for one deck, and another $2.1 million for a second deck, if necessary.

    To pay off the bonds, there was a 10 cent toll.
    Now it costs four dollars to cross.

    On Dec. 12, 1936, the bridge officially opened. At 800-feet, it was the world's longest plate-girder, fixed arch bridge when it opened. A second deck was added in 1938.

    After World War II, developers honed in on Riverdale.

    The building of luxury high-rise rentals started in earnest in the 1960s. In the 1980s, many buildings converted to co-ops.

    Today, an average 63,000 cars use the bridge daily - but no trucks are allowed.

    “That makes it a rather pleasant drive,” Ultan said. “And that’s one of the reasons why most of those high-rises are so close to the highway.”

    An $86 million rehabilitation project that included replacing the original Depression-era lower level and other improvements, was completed in June 2010.

    A three-year, $33 million project is underway to replace the original 1930s steel curb stringers that support the upper level roadway.

    To celebrate the anniversary, the Riverdale Library at 5540 Mosholu Ave. is hosting a photo exhibit through mid-January.

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