Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge
|Carries||9 lanes (4 upper, 5 lower) of NY 25, and 1 lane for pedestrians/bicycles|
|Locale||New York City (Manhattan–Queens)|
|Other name(s)||Queensboro Bridge, 59th Street Bridge|
|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)
|Clearance above||12 ft (3.7 m) (upper level)|
|Clearance below||130 ft (40 m)|
|Engineering design by||Leffert L. Buck|
|Opened||March 30, 1909|
|Daily traffic||170,277 (2016)|
Manhattan, New York City
|Architect||Gustav Lindenthal (designer)|
Henry Hornbostel (architect)
|Architectural style||Beaux-Arts; through cantilever truss|
|NRHP reference #||78001879|
|Added to NRHP||December 20, 1978|
|Designated NYCL||April 16, 1974|
Location within New York City
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 the neighborhood of Upper East Side in Manhattan, passing over Roosevelt Island.
The Queensboro Bridge carries New York State Route 25, which terminates at the west (Manhattan) side of the bridge. The bridge once carried NY 24 and NY 25A as well. The western leg of the Queensboro Bridge is flanked on its northern side by the freestanding Roosevelt Island Tramway. The bridge was, for a long time, simply called the Queensboro Bridge, but in March 2011, the bridge was officially renamed in honor of former New York City mayor Ed Koch.
No tolls are charged for motor vehicles to use the bridge. 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.
The Queensboro Bridge is a two-level double cantilever bridge. 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 upper level of the bridge has four lanes of automobile traffic, consisting of two roadways with two lanes in each directions. It provides a view of the bridge's cantilever truss structure and the New York skyline. Although the two upper level roadways both end at Thomson Avenue on the Queens side, they diverge in opposite directions on the Manhattan side. The lanes used by westbound traffic, located on the northern side of the bridge, lead north to 62nd and 63rd Streets. On the other hand, the lanes normally used by eastbound traffic are located on the southern side of the bridge lead south to 57th and 58th Streets. The roadway to 57th and 58th Streets is used as a westbound high-occupancy vehicle lane during rush hours.
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 formed the elegant ceiling of the former 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.
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 – after the creation in 1898 of Greater New York City through the amalgamation of Manhattan (New York City), Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island – under the new city's 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, which included an attempt to dynamite one span. The bridge opened for public use on March 30, 1909, having cost about $18 million and 50 lives. There was a ten-cent toll to drive over the bridge. The bridge's ceremonial grand opening was held on June 12, 1909. At the time, it was the fourth longest bridge in the world. The grand opening included a fireworks display. The bridge was then known as the Blackwell's Island Bridge, from an earlier name for Roosevelt Island.
The bridge's upper level originally contained two pedestrian walkways and two elevated railway tracks (which connected a spur of the IRT Second Avenue Elevated Line in Manhattan to the Queensboro Plaza station in Queens). Three lanes of roadway were installed on the south side of the upper level in 1931, replacing the former upper-level walkway. All service on the Second Avenue Elevated was discontinued in 1942. From 1955 to 1958, two additional lanes were built on the upper level. The upper-level ramps on the Queens end of the bridge were built during the same time.
The lower deck originally hosted 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 trolley lanes and mid-bridge station, as well as the stairs, were removed in the 1950s following the trolley's discontinuation, and for the next few decades the bridge carried 11 lanes of automobile traffic.
In 1930, an elevator was built on the bridge to transport cars and passengers to what was then called Welfare Island, now Roosevelt Island. Then, in 1955, the Welfare Island Bridge from Queens opened, allowing automobile and truck access to the island and the only non-aquatic means in and out of the island; the vehicular elevator to Queensboro Bridge then closed, but wasn't demolished until 1970. However, as late as August 1973, a separate passenger elevator ran during the work week from near the Queens end of the bridge to Welfare Island via the Welfare Island Elevator Storehouse, which was described at the time as "clean but gloomy".
There was also at one time what was known as the "upside-down" building on the north side of the bridge, because its main entrance was on the bridge. This provided access to the hospitals on the island. This building, which was located about where the current tram station is, has now been demolished.
After years of decay and corrosion, an extensive renovation of the bridge began in 1987 and completed in 2012, having cost over $300 million.
For a brief period in 1997, the traffic directions of the upper-level roadways were reversed during rush hours so that the upper level used a left-hand traffic pattern. Manhattan-bound traffic used the southern roadway while Queens-bound traffic used the northern roadway. After residents of the Upper East Side voiced concerns about severe rush-hour congestion, this traffic pattern was discontinued, and the south-side walkway on the lower level was converted to a Queens-bound vehicular lane during the evening rush hour. The outer roadway was later opened to vehicles at all times, but after a series of fatal crashes in 2013, officials decided to close the ramp during the nighttime.
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 new name became official in March 2011. The renaming decision was unpopular among Queens residents and business leaders, and many local residents 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. Vallone said, "Never in a million years would they think to rename the Brooklyn or Manhattan bridges, 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: the MTA Bus Company's QM1, QM2, QM3, QM4, QM5, QM6, QM10, QM12, QM15, QM16, QM17, QM18, QM20, QM21, QM24, QM31, QM32, QM34, QM35, QM36, QM40, QM42, and QM44, and New York City Transit's X63, X64, and X68. (These bus routes use the Queens-Midtown Tunnel for westbound travel.)
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