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The Queensboro Bridge, also known as the 59th Street 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. It carries New York State Route 25 and once carried NY 24 and NY 25A as well.

The Queensboro Bridge is the only one of the four East River spans that carries a route number (excluding the Triborough Bridge): NY 25 terminates at the west (Manhattan) side of the bridge. It is commonly called the "59th Street Bridge" by New York City residents because its Manhattan end is located between 59th and 60th Streets. The alternative name was popularized by the Simon and Garfunkel song "The 59th St. Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)", although New Yorkers took to calling it the 59th Street Bridge long before the song.

HistoryEdit

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.

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 automobile pedestrian walks and two elevated railway tracks (as a spur from the IRT Second Avenue Elevated Line) and the lower deck four traffic lanes, and what is now the "outer roadway" and pedestrian walk were two trolley lanes. The railway would be removed in the late 1930s and early 1940s as well as the 2nd Avenue Elevated Line. The trolley lanes 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.

The bridge was known as the 59th Street Bridge before WWII.

TodayEdit

After years of decay and corrosion, an extensive renovation of the Queensboro Bridge was begun in 1987 and is still in progress, having cost over $300 million.

The upper level of the Queensboro 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 six lanes, the inner four for automobile traffic and the outer two for either automobile traffic or pedestrians and bicycles. The northern outer roadway was converted into a permanent pedestrian walk in 1999.

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 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.

Rail tracksEdit

In addition to the two rapid transit tracks, the bridge also had four streetcar tracks. The following Queens lines operated over the bridge:

One Manhattan line operated over the bridge, the Third Avenue Railway's 42nd Street Crosstown Line from 1910 to 1919.

In popular cultureEdit

  • In F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway traverse the bridge on their way from Long Island to Manhattan. "The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge," Nick says, "is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world".
  • As previously mentioned, the bridge is featured (as the 59th Street Bridge) in the title of the Simon and Garfunkel song "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)."
  • The Queensboro is prominently displayed during the opening credits of the television series Taxi, as a cab (driven by series star Tony Danza) drives across it.
  • 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.
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man #25, the Green Goblin kidnnaps Mary Jane Watson and throws her off the bridge.
  • The theme song of the CBS sitcom The King of Queens include the lyrics "Sitting here in traffic on the Queensboro Bridge tonight."
  • The Queensboro Bridge was used in the thrill ride Kongfrontation at Universal Studios Florida. The ride, based on King Kong, had passengers riding the Roosevelt Island Tramway from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island. A mechanical King Kong attacked the cars while hanging off the Queensboro Bridge.
  • The Queensboro Bridge plays a key role in the opening and chase sequences in King of New York.
  • The bridge was featured in the 1981 John Carpenter film Escape from New York. The bridge was one of the last intact links to the Manhattan Island prison and was land mined to thwart escape attempts.
  • The bridge is also the setting for a memorable scene in the Woody Allen classic film, "Manhattan".
  • The opening sequence in the film New Jack City is set on the bridge, in which Wesley Snipes' character throws a rival off to his death.
  • Musician David Mead included a song called "Queensboro Bridge" on his 2004 album Indiana.

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

Crossings of the East River
Upstream
60th Street Tunnel
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Queensboro Bridge
NY-25
Downstream
53rd Street Tunnel
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