Monday, August 27, 2012

The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge


My first challenging assignment as a military journalist was to write about the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.  Prior to that my day consisted of scanning several newspapers daily and highlighting any articles I came across which mentioned the army. This was tedious and boring, but the general wanted it done. I could not complain as I was one of the lucky women in the army. My recruiter had actually signed my card. Recruiters were famous for promising things which never got delivered, but my card was signed so I got my chosen career which was photo journalism. I cannot tell you how many girls found out on the day they graduated from basic training that they were assigned to permanent kitchen duty. 

I loved that bridge. It is so majestic. I was stationed in Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, NY and could see it from the fort.  The general was presenting a talk about the bridge, and my drawing and article were used. My article actually landed in the NY Post and I cut it out and sent it home to my mother. I will always fondly remember the Verrazano Narrows Bridge to this day.
The bridge has many features which are worth remembering:
It carries six lanes upper and six lower.
It is a double decker suspension bridge.
It can be seen in most of Manhattan, and many spots in all five boroughs of NYC
Since 1976 it has been the starting point for each NYC Marathon.
Each ship that enters the Port of New York and New Jersey passes beneath it.

It marks the boundary between Brooklyn and Staten Island at the Narrows.

It is named after the Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano (notice we dropped a “z” when we named the bridge) and the area of water “Narrows”, which it spans. Later there was a petition to rename the bridge after John F Kennedy but New York’s major airport bore his name instead.

In 1964, at its time of completion, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world measuring 4,260 feet or 1,298 meters. It was surpassed by the Humber Bridge built in the UK in 1981.

Today it is the ninth longest main span in the world, and the longest in the US.
Three men died building the bridge, one of whom was just 19 years of age, Gerard McKee, and was the subject of a chapter in Gay Talese’s book titled the The Bridge.

While the bridge has been extremely beneficial for travel in and around NY, it was a sore subject for many who lived in Bay Ridge, as they were forced to move to make way for the bridge’s construction.

NYC Mayor Robert Wagner cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony on June 28, 1969. He was the first to be driven over and an estimated 5,000 people were present.

Fort Lafayette, which was built next to Fort Hamilton, was also destroyed to make room for the bridge.

There are two towers and each of them contains one million bolts and three million rivets.

There are four suspension cables which measure 36 inches in diameter or 914 millimeters. Each cable is comprised of 26,108 wires totaling 143,000 miles. Now that is a lot of hardware!! But doesn’t this bridge prove that man can create a work of beauty and purpose?

This post is written by Judy Sheldon-Walker with the compliments of
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1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for posting this. It is truly an amazing bridge.