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(59th Street Bridge)
|Official name||Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge|
|Other name(s)||59th Street Bridge|
|Carries||10 lanes (4 upper, 6 lower) of NY 25, and 1 lane for pedestrians/bicycles|
|Locale||New York City (Manhattan–Queens)|
|Maintained by||New York City Department of Transportation|
|Design||Double-decked Cantilever bridge|
|Total length||3,724 ft 6 in (1,135.2 m)|
|Width||100 ft (30 m)|
|Longest span||1,182 ft (360 m) (west span)|
984 ft (300 m) (east span)
630 ft (192 m) (center span)
|Vertical clearance||12 ft (3.7 m)(upper level)|
|Clearance below||130 ft (40 m)|
|Opened||March 30, 1909|
|Daily traffic||176,306 (2008)|
|Location||59th St., New York, New York|
|Architectural style||Beaux-Arts; through cantilever truss|
|NRHP Reference #||78001879|
|Added to NRHP||December 20, 1978|
The Queensboro Bridge, also known as the 59th Street Bridge – because its Manhattan end is located between 59th and 60th Streets – and officially titled the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, is a cantilever bridge over the East River in New York City that was completed in 1909. It connects the neighborhood of Long Island City in the borough of Queens with Manhattan, passing over Roosevelt Island. It carries New York State Route 25 and is the westernmost of the four East River spans that carry a route number: NY 25 terminates at the west (Manhattan) side of the bridge, which once carried NY 24 and NY 25A as well. The bridge is flanked on its northern side by the freestanding Roosevelt Island Tramway.
In December 2010, the bridge was renamed in honor of former New York City mayor Ed Koch.
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 (who was appointed to the new position of Commissioner of Bridges in 1902), 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. A ceremonial grand opening was held on June 12, 1909. It was then known as the Blackwell's Island Bridge, from an earlier name for Roosevelt Island. Between 1930 and 1955, there was a vehicular elevator to transport cars and passengers to and from Welfare Island, now known as Roosevelt Island. This was demolished in 1970.
The Queensboro Bridge is a double cantilever bridge, as it has two cantilever spans, one over the channel on each side of Roosevelt Island. The bridge does not have suspended spans, so the cantilever arm from each side reaches to the midpoint of the span. The lengths of its five spans and approaches are as follows:
The bridge has two levels. Originally the top level contained two pedestrian walks and two elevated railway tracks (which connected a spur of the IRT Second Avenue Elevated Line to the Queensboro Plaza elevated station) and the lower deck four motor traffic lanes, and what is now the "outer roadway" and pedestrian walk were two trolley lanes. A trolley connected passengers from Queens and Manhattan to a stop in the middle of the bridge, where passengers could take an elevator or the stairs down to Roosevelt Island. The trolley operated from the bridge's opening until April 7, 1957. The railway was removed in the late 1930s and early 1940s as well as the 2nd Avenue Elevated Line. The trolley lanes and mid-bridge station, as well as the stairs, were removed in the 1950s, and for the next few decades the bridge carried 11 lanes of automobile traffic. No tolls are charged for motor vehicles to use the bridge.
After years of decay and corrosion, an extensive renovation of the bridge began in 1987 and completed in 2012, having cost over $300 million.
The upper level of the bridge has four lanes of automobile traffic and provides an excellent view of the bridge's cantilever truss structure and the New York skyline. The lower level has five vehicular lanes, the inner four for automobile traffic and the southern outer lane for automobile traffic as well, used exclusively for Queens-bound traffic. The North Outer Roadway was converted into a permanent pedestrian walk and bicycle path in September 2000.
The Manhattan approach to the bridge is supported on a series of Guastavino tile vaults which now form the elegant ceiling of the Food Emporium Bridge Market and the restaurant Guastavino's, located under the bridge. Originally, this open air promenade was known as Bridgemarket and was part of Hornbostel's attempt to make the bridge more hospitable in the city.
In March 2009, the New York City Bridge Centennial Commission sponsored events marking the centennial of the bridge's opening. The bridge was also designated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers during the year of its centennial anniversary.
In December 2010, the city announced that the bridge would be renamed in honor of former Mayor Ed Koch from the Queensboro Bridge to the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge. The renaming decision was unpopular among Queens residents and business leaders, and many locals continue to refer to the bridge by its older name. New York City Council member Peter Vallone, Jr. from Queens vowed to remove Koch's name from the bridge. “Never in a million years would they think to rename the Brooklyn or Manhattan bridges,” said Vallone. “But for some reason, it was OK to slap Queens around."
The bridge carries the Q32 local bus route operated by MTA New York City Transit and the Q60 and Q101 local bus routes operated by the MTA Bus Company. The bridge also carries 20 express bus routes in the eastbound direction only. (These bus routes use the Queens-Midtown Tunnel for westbound travel.) They are the MTA Bus Company's QM1, QM2, QM3, QM4, QM5, QM6, QM7, QM8, QM10, QM12, QM15, QM16, QM17, QM18, QM20, QM21, and QM24, and New York City Transit's X63, X64 and X68.
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