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Queensboro Bridge

59th Street Bridge, Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, Blackwell's Island Bridge

Queensboro Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: September 3, 2019

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and Videos
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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
59th Street (NY-25) Over East River and Various Roads
Location
New York: Manhattan, New York and Queens, New York: United States
Structure Type
Metal Cantilever 40 Panel Multiple-Type-Connected Baltimore Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal 6 Panel Rivet-Connected Warren Through Truss,
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1909 By Builder/Contractor: Pennsylvania Steel Company of Steelton, Pennsylvania and Engineer/Design: Gustav Lindenthal, Leffert L. Buck, and Other Engineers

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
1957
Main Span Length
1,182 Feet (360 Meters)
Structure Length
7,449 Feet (2,270 Meters)
Roadway Width
51 Feet (15.54 Meters)
Spans
5 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
2240048

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

View Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Documentation For This Bridge

HAER Data Pages, PDF

View New York City Landmark Designation For This Bridge

View National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form For This Bridge

View Historical Report About This Bridge

View Article About This Bridge

View Original Drawings and Engineering Reports About This Bridge

This bridge was the largest and heaviest cantilever truss bridges in America when it was completed. Even today, it stands out for its massive, double-deck configuration, elaborate system of approach ramps, and ornamental details including massive finials. This record-breaking cantilever truss bridge was under construction when another record-breaking cantilever truss bridge, the first Quebec Bridge in Canada collapsed on August 29, 1907. The safety and design of the Queensboro Bridge came under close scrutiny after the collapse, given that it was the same bridge type and also was of record-breaking size. However, this bridge did not suffer from the same design flaws, and was able to be completed and it has served enormously heavy traffic into the 21st Century. Its usage and deck arrangement has had changes over the years, but the overall bridge remains intact. The bridge design is unusual as it consists of two cantilevered spans that both lack a suspended span. Instead, the two cantilever arms of each cantilever span meet directly in the middle. The ends of the cantilever arms (ie the center of the cantilever spans) have riveted connections, whereas the other portions of the span are all pin connected. The cantilever span over the East Channel is slightly longer than the one over the east channel. A massive anchor span rests over Roosevelt Island, plus one anchor span at each end of the main span unit. The bridge was designed with input from an architecture firm, Palmer and Hornbostel, led by Henry Hornbostel.

Another unique feature of this bridge at the west end of the bridge is an attractive arch span over 1st Avenue. This span has a unique barrel design that matches a beautiful interior space called BridgeMarket, formerly serving Food Emporium which is closed now. Reportedly, this area was designed with assistance from another architect, Rafael Guastavino, who designed the unique vaulted ceiling in the BridgeMarket. The underside of the 1st Avenue Overpass has a similar tile design suggesting his involvement there as well.

Above: Simple drawing of cantilever truss spans. Click for enlargement showing span lengths. Note this is a difficult bridge to provide an overall length for since different decks and roadways start and end in different places. The given overall length on HistoricBridges.org is the official length given in reports about the bridge when the bridge was built.

This bridge has an enormous plaque on the portal bracing, which for this bridge, despite its prominent location makes it nearly impossible to read given it is not visible from the sidewalk on the lower deck. The text of the plaque is shown below. As can be seen, while Gustav Lindenthal gets the most credit for the design of the bridge, many other engineers, including some famous engineers like Leon S. Moisseiff, and Leffert L. Buck are named on the plaque as well.

Main Plaque

QUEENSBORO BRIDGE
BEGUN 1900
COMPLETED 1909

COMMISSIONERS
JOHN L. SHEA
GUSTAV LINDENTHAL
GEORGE E. BEST
JAMES W STEVENSON

ENGINEERS IN CHARGE
OF PLANS AND DESIGN
LEON S. MOISSEIFF
JOHN D. WILKENS

ASSISTANT ENGINEERS
R. C. STRACHAN      L. P. BROWN
H. B. REIFSNYDER      A. I. PERRY
J. H. WEINBERGER      J. O. ECKERSLEY
MAYORS
ROBERT A. VAN WYCK
SETH LOW
GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN

CONSULTING ENGINEERS
RICHARD S. BUCK
FREDERIC C. KUNZ
HENRY B. SEAMAN
AUSTIN L. BOWMAN

PRINCIPAL ASSISTANT ENGINEER
HENRY A. LACHICOTTE

ARCHITECTS
PALMER AND HORNBOSTEL
CHIEF ENGINEERS
SAMUEL R. PROBASCO
LEFFERT L. BUCK
OTHNIEL F. NICHOLS
COLIN M. INGERSOLL
KINGSLEY L. MARTIN

ENGINEERS IN CHARGE
OF CONSTRUCTION
OSCAR ERLANDSEN
JOHN A. KNIGHTON

ASSISTANT ENGINEERS
E. A. FINTEL      A. LA FORGE
A. J. MALUKOFF      N. CUMMINGS
G. S. G. LEWIS      R. R. CROWELL

Above: Historical photo showing bridge construction.

Above: Historical photo showing bridge construction.

Above: Historical photo showing newly completed bridge.

Above: Henry Hornbostel


This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Double-Deck

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Photo Galleries and Videos: Queensboro Bridge

 
View Photo Gallery
Overview and Approach Span Photos
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of overview photos that show the bridge as a whole and general areas of the bridge, plus details of the approach spans. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Cantilever Truss Details
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the cantilever truss spans. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Overview and Approach Span Photos
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of overview photos that show the bridge as a whole and general areas of the bridge, plus details of the approach spans. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Cantilever Truss Details
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the cantilever truss spans. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer

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Maps and Links: Queensboro Bridge

Coordinates (Latitude, Longitude):
40.756753,-73.954217

View Bridge Location In:

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