Queensboro Bridge
The Queensboro Bridge, also known as the 59th Street 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 once carried NY 24 and NY 25A as well. The Queensboro Bridge 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. It is commonly called the "59th Street Bridge" because its Manhattan end is located between 59th Street and 60th Streets. The Queensboro Bridge is flanked directly on its northern side by the freestanding Roosevelt Island Tramway. In December 2010, the city announced that the bridge would be named in honor of former 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 mid-point of the span. The lengths of its five spans and approaches are as follows:
  • Manhattan to Roosevelt Island span length (cantilever): 1,182 ft (360 m)
  • Roosevelt Island span length: 630 ft (192 m)
  • Roosevelt Island to Queens span length (cantilever): 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)
Until it was surpassed by the Quebec Bridge in 1917, the span between Manhattan and Roosevelt Island was the longest cantilever span in North America. The bridge has two levels. Originally the top level contained two pedestrian walks and two elevated railway tracks (as a spur from the IRT Second Avenue Elevated Line) 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. The bridge was known as the 59th Street Bridge before WWII. In 1939, the New York Cubans of the Negro National League played their home games on a baseball diamond under the bridge known as the 59th Street Sandlot, technically making it the first major league covered stadium.

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 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 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. The Queensboro Bridge is the first entry point into Manhattan in the course of the New York City Marathon and the last exit point out of Manhattan in the Five Boro Bike Tour.

Rail tracks
In addition to the two rapid transit tracks, the bridge also had four streetcar tracks. The following Queens lines operated over the bridge:
  • Queensboro Bridge Local, 1909-1957 (last streetcar line in the city)
  • Astoria Line, 1910-1939
  • Steinway Line, 1910-1939
  • Queens Boulevard Line, 1913-1937
  • College Point Line, 1910-1925
  • Corona Line, 1910-1922
One Manhattan line operated over the bridge, the Third Avenue Railway's 42nd Street Crosstown Line from 1910 to 1919.

Cultural references
The Queensboro Bridge has been referenced numerous times in popular culture. The best known use of the bridge was from Woody Allen's film Manhattan , when Allen and Diane Keaton's characters relax on a bench in front of it at dawn; it became the film's poster image. In the 1932 Paramount Pictures film entitled No Man of Her Own , a light comedy film starring Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, Lombard's character looks out of her hotel window to a view across the East River and the Queensboro Bridge, and refers to "Blackwell's Island", now known as Roosevelt Island. In the 1936 screwball comedy My Man Godfrey , it is seen several times as backdrop to the city dump where the "forgotten men" live. It has been used in the credits of the television series Taxi , Archie Bunker's Place , and The King of Queens as well as being the backdrop of scenes in the films Escape from New York , Spider-Man , and Manhattan . 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". The Simon & Garfunkel song " The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)" uses the bridge as its namesake. It is referenced in The Simpsons episode " You Only Move Twice", when Hank Scorpio destroys it to show that he's not bluffing. It is also cited in the Jack's Mannequin song, "Diane, the Skyscraper," on the Dear Jack EP. The climax of the 1984 film Turk 182! takes place on and around the Queensboro Bridge.


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