Williamsburg Bridge

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Williamsburg Bridge

The Williamsburg Bridge is a suspension bridge in New York City across the East River connecting the Lower East Side of Manhattan at Delancey Street with the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn on Long Island at Broadway near the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (Interstate 278). It once carried New York State Route 27A and later Interstate 78.

Construction on the bridge began in 1896, with Leffert L. Buck as chief engineer, Henry Hornbostel as architect and Holton D. Robinson as assistant engineer, and the bridge opened on December 19, 1903 at a cost of $12,000,000. At the time it was constructed, the Williamsburg Bridge was the largest suspension bridge on Earth, and remained so until the Bear Mountain Bridge was completed in 1924. It is an unconventional structure, as suspension bridges go; though the main span hangs from cables in the usual manner, the side spans leading to the approaches are cantilevered, drawing no support from the cables above. The main span of the bridge is 1600 feet (488 m) long. The entire bridge is 7308 feet (2227 m) long between cable anchor terminals, and the deck is 118 feet (36 m) wide. The height at the center of the bridge is 135 feet (41 m) and each tower is 335 feet (102 m); these measurements taken from the river’s surface at high water mark.
The bridge is one of only two suspension bridges in New York City to currently carry both automobile and rail traffic. (The Manhattan Bridge is the other.) In addition to this two-track rail line, connecting the New York City Subway’s BMT Nassau Street Line and BMT Jamaica Line, there were once two sets of trolley tracks.
The Brooklyn landing is between Grand Street and Broadway, which both had ferries at the time. Both withered and went out of business in the following years.

The Williamsburg Bridge is featured in the movies The Lost Weekend (1945) and The Naked City (1948) and the novel The Alienist (1994) by Caleb Carr.
The bridge has been under reconstruction since the 1980s, largely to repair damage caused by decades of deferred maintenance. The cast iron stairway on the Manhattan side, and the steep ramp from Driggs Avenue on the Williamsburg side to the footwalks, were replaced to allow handicapped access in the 1990s. The bridge celebrated its 100th anniversary in December 2003.

No tolls are charged for motor vehicles to use the bridge. Had the Lower Manhattan Expressway been built, the Williamsburg Bridge would have obtained the Interstate 78 designation.
American jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins would venture to the Williamsburg Bridge to spare a neighboring expectant mother the sound of his practice routine.


Construction commenced : November 7, 1896
Open to traffic : December 19, 1903
Length of each of the four cables : 2985 feet
Longest span : 487.68 meters (1,600 feet)
Total length : 2,227.48 meters (7,308 feet)
Width : 35.97 meters (118 feet)
Vertical clearance : 10 feet 6 inches (3.2 m) (inner roadways only)
Clearance below : 41.15 meters (135 feet) at mean higher high water

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