Throughout elementary and high school, I rode over the Henry Hudson Bridge on a daily basis until I started taking the subway up to the Bronx. The span, seemingly forever under construction, is one of the city’s more minimalist bridges with no sweeping suspension cables or iconic brick work. With a northbound upper level and southbound lower level, it simply does the job, and today, it turns 75.
As part of its birthday celebration, the MTA is opening up its trove of historic photos for the public to see. Beginning today, the Riverdale Public Library will host an exhibit of more than a dozen Depression-era exhibits of the construction of the bridge and the land around it at the time. The 800-foot bridge, which opened in 1936, was the world’s longest plate-girder, fixed arch bridge at the time and was constructed by Robert Moses in an era when driving was a leisure-time activity.
“We are pleased to share some of the thousands of historic photos from our Special Archive in celebration of the Henry Hudson Bridge,” said MTA Bridges and Tunnels President Jim Ferrara. “The Henry Hudson was originally designed for leisurely weekend drives but through the decades has evolved into a vital transportation connection in the tri-state region, linking New York City and the northern suburbs.”
At the time, Moses faced opposition to the bridge mostly from those underwriters who believed motorists would not pay a 10-cent crossing fee with the free Broadway bridge mere blocks away, but the master planner knew that the views of the Palisades would make it a popular crossing for weekend drivers. The lower level opened 18 months later in 1938, and the price tag for the entire bridge was just $5 million.
Today, around 63,000 cars per day cross the Henry Hudson Bridge, and the MTA is amidst a $33 million rehab project that will see the original steel curb stringers that brace the upper level replaced. The MTA last year wrapped an $86 million rehab that saw the lower level completely replaced and the pedestrian walkway refurbished. “All of this work is being done to make sure that the bridge remains as strong as it was the day it opened and for many decades to come,” Facility Engineer Walter Hickey said in a statement.
After the jump, another glimpse at the Henry Hudson Bridge under construction.