Queens is a NY county and borough, which is located on the city’s island part, Long Island City. Queens is the largest of the five New York boroughs. The need to connect the Queens and Manhattan boroughs with a bridge over the East River appeared as early as 1838. However, the private construction company that created the project and undertook to build the bridge went bankrupt, so the construction was delayed for many years ahead. The construction of the legendary bridge began only in 1903 and was completed in 6 years. The famous Queensboro Bridge was opened in 1909. Learn more at Queens Future.
Building of the Queensboro Bridge
American bridges impress with their majestic appearance. They are not just used as crossings, but they are real art pieces and American tourist gems. The Queensboro Bridge is one of them.
Leffert L. Buck and Henry Hornbostel, who created a project for the Williamsburg Bridge connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn over the East River, became the designers of the Queensboro Bridge too. The head of the NY Department of Bridges, Gustav Lindenthal, was also engaged in the process.
The construction of the Queensboro Bridge began in 1903 and lasted for six long years. The building process was slowed down by boycotts and employee dissatisfaction. There were even attempts to blow up part of the unfinished bridge.
Peculiarities of the Queensboro Bridge
The construction was a quite challenging task, as the bridge had to be built in the shallow water of the river. Thus, constructors applied new technologies of driving steel piles and made the bridge cantilever. It means it has no intermediate supports and consists of five spans. Originally, the Queensboro Bridge was built as a railway bridge. However, it was later converted into a road bridge.
The construction of the Queensboro Bridge cost about $18 million at that time. Therefore, it became the largest and longest bridge in the world.
The Queensboro Bridge played an important role in the development of the transportation infrastructure of New York City and its counties, providing a connection between the two banks of the East River.
The construction of the bridge was not only expensive and time-consuming but also fatal for 50 builders.
On March 30, 1909, a grand ceremony was organized to mark the opening of the bridge, which was originally called the Blackwell’s Island Bridge (later renamed Roosevelt Island). In 2009, it was included in the US National Register of Historic Places.
Interesting facts about the Queensborough Bridge
As of 1909, the Queensborough Bridge was the world’s longest cantilever bridge with a 1,182 ft main span.
A trolley line connecting Manhattan and Roosevelt Island was operating above the Queensboro Bridge. Cars to and from Queens stopped in the middle of the bridge and people went down to the island in an elevator. That type of transportation existed in Queens until 1957. At that time, the streetcar line over Queensboro was the last one in the United States.
Also, the Queensboro Bridge has been used as a filming location for many movies, such as Sherlock Holmes, Pulp Fiction, Spider-Man and others.
The Queensborough Bridge has undergone several reconstructions and repairs over the years. During one of them, the original steel was replaced with new materials.
In 2011, the Queensboro Bridge was renamed in honor of the former mayor of New York, who passed away the same year. It was named the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge.
The Queensboro Bridge has always inspired artists with its majesty and beauty. F. Scott Fitzgerald mentions it in The Great Gatsby too:
“The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world”