These two magnificent bridges are stunning landmarks that are among the most beautiful landmark bridges in New York. Steel arch bridges are in general an uncommon structure type, and these two bridges are noteworthy for their monumental size.
At first glance, these might appear to be two identical bridges that were built at the same time. They both have the appearance of 1930s bridges. However, the 1963 northbound bridge is nearly 30 years newer than the 1935 southbound span. It would appear that a very dedicated attempt was made to maintain the aesthetic appearance of the crossing, when the second bridge was added, by making the new bridge look identical to the old one. The attention to detail was quite remarkable, and the northbound bridge has the exact same span configuration as the old one. The lengths of the bridges are listed in the National Bridge Inventory as being identical. Also, by 1963, the use of built-up steel beams was quickly fading, and so the appearance of built-up members containing v-lacing and lattice on the 1963 bridge suggests that this was an intentional decision to make it blend in with the 1935 bridge. Most 1963 bridges would not feature v-lacing and lattice on so many members.
There are some tiny differences that can be found between the two bridge if one bothers to look closely at the structures. The piers supporting the spans that are in the water for the 1935 bridge feature stone cutwaters, while the 1963 bridge does not. Sway bracing on the 1935 span is v-laced, while the sway bracing on the 1963 span is latticed. V-lacing on many of the members of the 1963 span features "railroad style" v-lacing, which was a heavier design that riveted each bar that formed the v-lacing separately of the other. The 1935 bridge in contrast features the more standard v-lacing which used one rivet to attach two v-lacing bars to each side of the beam.
Certainly, the 1935 bridge is more historically significant. It is older, and its design fits in the context of the period. The 1963 bridge is however also noteworthy, and is interesting because it is a 1963 bridge built using the 1930s design and methods. Together they form a beautiful landmark that should be a stop for any traveler in the Niagara area. These bridges can be easily viewed and photographed from Grand Island. They produce beautiful afternoon and evening photos from the island.
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