Tuesday, December 5, 2023

THE HENRY HUDSON BRIDGE

What comes to your mind when you think of bridges? Probably, we imagine their grace, monumentality, lightness and physical beauty. A bridge symbolizes hope for the best, a spiritual uplift, a transition to the new and the completion of the old. In Europe, there was even a legend that bridge crossing can cure an illness or help get rid of unhappiness. In our opinion, the above-mentioned also refers to the Henry Hudson Bridge, which is often called the New York Gateway. What do you think of this? We offer to learn more about this bridge at bronx-future.com.

History of the bridge

According to nytimes.com, the construction of the Henry Hudson Bridge was planned back in 1906. By the way, it was named in honor of the English navigator Henry Hudson, who explored the area near modern New York at the beginning of the 17th century. He managed to discover and mark on maps all the local bays, islands and straits that would later be settled by the Dutch and then by the English and where the great American city of New York would grow. In 1609, he even cast an anchor near the place that would be named after him 300 years later. At the beginning of the 20th century, when New York was rapidly developing, the name of Henry Hudson was honored again. At that time, the subway crossed the Harlem River stretching its long arms to the Bronx, which was just merged with the city. Other bridges, such as the 145th Street Bridge, the City Island Bridge and many others, appeared in those years too. The city was also planning the construction of the Henry Hudson Bridge, which, according to architects and city planners, was supposed to connect the Bronx and Manhattan near the Hudson River. Its official project included heavy stone piers, a wide roadway, decorative light-up figures and railings that would allow pedestrians and cars to move freely and safely. In 1906, the bridge wasn’t built yet, as the conscious residents of Spuyten Duyvil were afraid that it would destroy the forest of Inwood Hill Park. Also, they thought the bridge would increase the number of cars and cause traffic jams in the Bronx (however, bridges are designed to reduce them). In addition, the construction was hindered due to the fact that potential investors didn’t want to put their money into the creation of that bridge. They believed it would be unpromising because the free Broadway Bridge was also located nearby. At that point, the construction stopped without even starting.

However, there was a nuance, which was called Robert Moses, a famous American bridge builder, constructor and initiator of the New York development in the 20th century. Thanks to his ideas, the city changed its appearance. His activity in New York can be compared to Baron Osman’s in Paris.

Let’s return to the bridge. Robert Moses continued to lobby for its construction, as it enabled the development of the area along the Hudson River. The city could allocate free land under the construction of the Henry Hudson Parkway, use the federal budget to pay workers and also create the new Riverdale neighborhood to attract investments. In 1929, The New York Times mentioned the plans for bridge construction and, thus, proved them.

The bridge construction

The bridge was built in 1932. Robert Moses signed a contract with the construction company 4 hours after the Board of Estimate approved the project. Rather a quick decision, isn’t it?

The bridge project was created by David B. Steinman back in 1911 as a civil engineering dissertation project at Columbia University.

The American Bridge Company manufactured the bridge frame for the Henry Hudson Parkway Authority corporation, which cost $4,949 million. The first part of the bridge was opened on December 12, 1936, and the second one on May 7, 1938. It is interesting that the second one was opened owing to $2 million income from the 2 years of exploitation of the first part. 

Today, the 800 feet long and 142 feet high bridge features a 2-level and 7-lane roadway as well as a pedestrian walkway. The bridge connects the northern and southern green capes and is part of the Henry Hudson Parkway New York State Route 9A, which starts in Brooklyn and ends in Peekskill, New York. The Spuyten Duyvil Bridge, which is used for heavy trains’ transitions, is located nearby. In addition, the Spuyten Duyvil Metro-North subway station was placed near the bridge’s Bronx side too.

Renovation of the bridge

The bridge successfully operated for more than 60 years. Its reconstruction, which was carried out by the Steinman, Boynton,  Gronquist and Birdsall company, began in 2000 and continued for several years. The bridge’s service company paid $160 million for it. In 2017-2020, another $86 million renovation was carried out. It included the reconstruction of the upper and lower levels, modernization of the pedestrian and bicycle paths, elimination of the toll booth, improvement of road lighting, and seismic strengthening of the bridge.

The toll

Today, 22 million cars pass through the bridge annually. At the beginning of its operation, the toll was 10 cents and, in 2021, it was raised to $7.50 for cars and $4.28 for motorcycles. Since 2016, cash payments have become less popular and, therefore, the toll booths have been eliminated from the bridge. They have been replaced with cameras and license plate readers, which read the vehicle owner data at the entrances and send them toll invoices.

A close look at the bridge

What does the bridge look like today? It is a tall arched structure that connects the Bronx and Manhattan and overlooks the Spuyten Duyvil Creek. Today, it is not as busy as it used to be. The footpath that runs at the lower level is often covered with leaves and grass.

You can see the lights of the buildings, located along the Harlem River, from the eastern side of the bridge. Below, you can see the beautiful silver bridge supports, ships and trains. The passage to the bridge has been and remains difficult because of the unkempt Inwood Hill Park. It obstructs access to the bridge, though touted as the city’s largest natural park. It’s a pity that old trees, trash, undergrowth, broken streetlights and blackberries prevent people from seeing the beauty of this bridge. It’s easier to get there from the Riverdale side, but the local rickety fence, brushwood and branches can become an obstacle too.

Though the new bridge and highway crossed out the dreams about the isolated and peaceful west Bronx, they helped locals to move more quickly between Manhattan and the Bronx and, thus, people have more time to spend at work or with their families.

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