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George Washington Bridge

The George Washington Bridge is located near the former Fort Washington and New Jersey’s Fort Lee, which were locations used by General George Washington in an attempt to deter the British from occupying New York City during the American Revolutionary War in 1776. Read More

George Washington Bridge Under Construction - 1929

It should be an inspiration to us to recall that here, in Fort Washington, in 1776, our forebears made one of the most valiant stands against the insurmountable obstacles of the entire Revolutionary War. Here, at Jeffrey Hook, (George) Washington and his generals once struggled to block this channel against a hostile fleet with the sunken hulls of ships. Here, in a defense unmatched for heroism, 3,000 Americans sacrificed all for a great cause. We may rejoice that this great bridge was a site so sacred in patriotic memories."

     - Franklin D. Roosevelt. Dedication Ceremony for the George Washington Bridge.

It was the largest suspension bridge ever built at the time, expanding 3,500-feet for the center span, which is supported by two 570 foot steel towers. The Port Authority chose Swiss born architect and engineer Othmar Ammann as its chief engineer and the construction of the bridge began in October, 1927. Structurally, the length of the span between New York and New Jersey posed an engineering challenge, but using foresight and imagination, Ammann designed a bridge that would support the predicted five-million yearly vehicles, plus support for future expansion.

The bridge was originally called the "Hudson River Bridge" and was opened to traffic in 1931. Later, thanks to the prudence of Ammann, additional lanes were able to be opened in 1946 (they originally existed as two unpaved lanes) and in 1962, the lower roadway was constructed, which added six more lanes, bringing a total of fourteen lanes, the only bridge that can claim that distinction.

The George Washington Bridge held the title as the longest suspension bridge in the world until the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco overtook that title in 1937. The GW currently stands at thirteenth place, with the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in New York at sixth place and the current title holder is the Akashi Kaikyo suspension bridge in Japan, built in 1998. The George Washington bridge is however still considered one of the busiest bridges in the world.

As outstanding as this bridge is, so is this photo. Photographed in 1929, the two steel towers are clearly in sight, but what is really striking is the transformation in this picture. A Victorian home overshadows the foreground which, in a few years will make way for the important West Side Highway. Truly an amazing picture!

The man seen in the center of the photo is crossing over the trolly tracks. Trollys were common in this era, but, like other nostalgic elements, it was removed early on.

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