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Williamsburg Bridge
Carries 8 lanes of roadway,
2 tracks of the J M Z trains of the New York City Subway,
pedestrians, and bicycles
Crosses East River
Locale Manhattan and Brooklyn, in New York City
Maintained by New York City Department of Transportation
Design Suspension bridge and truss causeways
Total length 7,308 feet (2,227 m)
Width 118 feet (36 m)
Longest span 1,600 feet (490 m)
Vertical clearance 10 feet 6 inches (3.2 m) (inner roadways only)
Clearance below 135 feet (41 m) at mean high high water
AADT 110,000
Opened December 19, 1903
Toll Free
Connects:
Manhattan at Delancey St. with the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn
Coordinates 40°42′49″N 73°58′20″W / 40.713744°N 73.972299°W / 40.713744; -73.972299Coordinates: 40°42′49″N 73°58′20″W / 40.713744°N 73.972299°W / 40.713744; -73.972299

The Williamsburg Bridge is a suspension bridge in New York City across the East River connecting the Lower East Side of Manhattan at Delancey Street with the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn on Long Island at Broadway near the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (Interstate 278). It once carried New York State Route 27A and later Interstate 78.

Contents

History

WilliamsburgBridge1903opening.ogg
Historical film clip of a procession during the opening of the Williamsburg Bridge in 1903.

Construction on the bridge, the second to cross this river, began in 1896, with Leffert L. Buck as chief engineer, Henry Hornbostel as architect and Holton D. Robinson as assistant engineer, and the bridge opened on December 19, 1903 at a cost of $24,200,000.[1][2] At the time it was constructed, the Williamsburg Bridge set the record for the longest suspension bridge span on Earth. The record fell in 1924, when the Bear Mountain Bridge was completed.

It is an unconventional structure, as suspension bridges go; though the main span hangs from cables in the usual manner, the side spans leading to the approaches are cantilevered, drawing no support from the cables above.[3] The main span of the bridge is 1,600 feet (490 m) long. The entire bridge is 7,308 feet (2,227 m) long between cable anchor terminals, and the deck is 118 feet (36 m) wide. The height at the center of the bridge is 135 feet (41 m) and each tower is 335 feet (102 m); these measurements taken from the river's surface at high water mark.

This bridge and the Manhattan Bridge are the only suspension bridges in New York City that still carry both automobile and rail traffic. In addition to this two-track rail line, connecting the New York City Subway's BMT Nassau Street Line and BMT Jamaica Line, there were once two sets of trolley tracks.

The Brooklyn landing is between Grand Street and Broadway, which both had ferries at the time. The five ferry routes operated from these landings withered and went out of business by 1908.[4]

The bridge has been under reconstruction since the 1980s, largely to repair damage caused by decades of deferred maintenance. The bridge was completely shut down to motor vehicle traffic and subway trains on April 12, 1988 after inspectors discovered severe corrosion in a floor beam.[5] The cast iron stairway on the Manhattan side, and the steep ramp from Driggs Avenue on the Williamsburg side to the footwalks, were replaced to allow handicapped access in the 1990s.

A celebration was held on June 22, 2003 to mark the 100th anniversary of the bridge and the area surrounding Continental Army Plaza was filled with musical performers, exhibits on the history of the bridge, and street vendors. Dignitaries marched across the bridge carrying the 45-star American flag used in a game of capture the flag played by workers after the placement of the final cable in June 1902. A truck-sized birthday cake was specially made for the event by Domino Sugar, which had a factory on the East River waterfront near the bridge.[6]

The Williamsburg Bridge was designated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2009.[3]

No tolls are charged for motor vehicles to use the bridge.

Had the Lower Manhattan Expressway been built, the Williamsburg Bridge would have obtained the Interstate 78 designation.

Rail tracks

The bridge towers prominently over East River Park.

The rapid transit tracks in the center of the bridge were initially used by the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company elevated railroad. Today, the New York City Subway J M Z trains use these tracks.

Two tracks on the south side carried streetcars from the Brooklyn side:[7]

Full span, as seen from Wallabout Bay with Greenpoint and Long Island City in background

Two north-side tracks carried Manhattan streetcars:

Cultural references

  • The bridge is mentioned in the novel City of Bones, Book one of The Mortal Instruments.
  • The bridge is mentioned in the popular MMORPG World of Warcraft as the "Bridge of Life".
  • During a sabbatical from performing, American jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins would venture to the Williamsburg Bridge for practice sessions, in order to spare a neighboring expectant mother the noise.
  • Soul Coughing lead singer Mike Doughty refers to the Williamsburg Bridge in the song "True Dreams of Wichita.".
  • Altamonte lead singer James Cashman refers to the Williamsburg Bridge in the song "Hannah".
  • East Bay(San Francisco) rockers, Black Cat Music, have a song titled "Williamsburg Bridge Song".
  • Locals frequently refer to the bridge as the "Willy B."
  • The 1928 Edward Hopper painting "From Williamsburg Bridge" depicts a long-gone building as seen from the bridge's since remodeled walkway.[8]

Gallery

References

  1. ^ "Williamsburg Bridge". nycroads.com. http://www.nycroads.com/crossings/williamsburg/. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  2. ^ "New Bridge in a Glory of Fire; Wind-Up of Opening Ceremonies a Brilliant Scene". New York Times. 1903-12-20. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9904E6DF1139E333A25753C2A9649D946297D6CF. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  3. ^ a b "Williamsburg Bridge". ASCE Metropolitan Section. http://www.ascemetsection.org/content/view/434/1018/. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
  4. ^ Cudahy, Brian J. (1990). Over and Back: The History of Ferryboats in New York Harbor. New York: Fordam University Press. pp. 175-179. ISBN 0823212459. 
  5. ^ Lyall, Sarah (1988-04-13). "The Williamsburg Bridge Is Shut For 2 Weeks as Cracks Are Found". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1988/04/13/nyregion/the-williamsburg-bridge-is-shut-for-2-weeks-as-cracks-are-found.html. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  6. ^ Mitchell, Ellen (2003-06-19). "A 100-Year Span Gets Its Big Moment". Newsday. 
  7. ^ Brennan, Joseph. "Williamsburg Bridge Railway Terminal". http://www.columbia.edu/~brennan/abandoned/willb.html. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  8. ^ "Edward Hopper". National Gallery of Art. http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/2007/hopper/fullscreens/urbanpictures/229-031.shtm. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 

External links


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