Queensboro Bridge

From Academic Kids

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Queensborough_Bridge_and_Midtown_Manhattan.jpg
Aerial view of the Queensborough Bridge and Midtown Manhattan, New York

The Queensboro Bridge is a cantilever bridge over the East River in New York City. It connects the neighborhood of Long Island City in the borough of Queens with Manhattan, passing over Roosevelt Island as it does so. It is also called the "59th Street Bridge", a name popularized by the Simon and Garfunkel song "The 59th St. Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)", because it enters Manhattan at that street.

Serious proposals for a bridge linking Manhattan to Long Island City were first made as early as 1838 and attempts to finance such a bridge were made by a private company beginning in 1867. Its efforts never came to fruition and the company went bankrupt in the 1890s. Successful plans finally came about in 1903 under the city's new Department of Bridges, led by Gustav Lindenthal in collaboration with Leffert L. Buck and Henry Hornbostel, designers of the Williamsburg Bridge. Construction soon began but it would take until 1909 for the bridge to be completed due to delays from the collapse of an incomplete span during a windstorm and from labor unrest (including an attempt to dynamite one span). The bridge opened to the public on March 30, 1909, having cost about $18 million and 50 lives. It was then known as the Blackwell's Island Bridge, from an earlier name for Roosevelt Island.

At the time of its construction, the Queensboro Bridge was the greatest cantilever bridge in the world. The lengths of its five spans and approaches are:

  • Manhattan to Roosevelt Island span length: 1,182 ft (360 m)
  • Roosevelt Island span length: 630 ft (192 m)
  • Roosevelt Island to Queens span length: 984 ft (300 m)
  • side span lengths: 469 and 459 ft (143 and 140 m)
  • total length between anchorages: 3724 ft (1135 m)
  • total length including approaches: 7449 ft (2270 m)

The bridge has two levels. Originally the top level contained two vehicular traffic lanes and two elevated railway tracks (as a spur from the IRT Second Avenue Line) and the lower deck four traffic lanes and two trolley lanes. The railway and trolley lanes would be removed in the 1940s and 1950s, and for the next few decades the bridge carried 11 lanes of vehicular traffic. After years of decay and corrosion, an extensive renovation of the Queensboro Bridge began 1987 and is still in progress, having cost over $300 million.

Today, the upper level of the Queensboro Bridge has four lanes of vehicle traffic and provides an excellent view of the bridge's cantilever truss structure and the New York skyline. The lower level has six lanes, the inner four for vehicle traffic and the outer two for either vehicle traffic or pedestrians and bicycles.

The bridge is the setting for a significant scene in the 2002 movie Spider-Man. In that movie, the Green Goblin throws Mary Jane Watson from the bridge, and Spider-Man must decide between saving her or passengers on the Roosevelt Island tram.

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