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"The ancestor of every action is a thought." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Entries in NYC (18)

Monday
Jul112011

* The Triborough Bridge linking the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens for 75 Years 

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Tri-Borough Bridge, a game changer for cars navigating the city roadways.

A project marked with initial distress, construction began the same day of the stock market crash of October 1929. Mayor James "Jimmy" Walker kept financing for the bridge as steady as possible during tough times, allegedly using illegal or unethical methods. Construction of the bridge was slow, money was extremely tight for the city. In 1932 when accusations and evidence of corruption forced Walker to resign as Mayor, construction was delayed and it's fate was unknown. In 1934 Fiorello La Guardia won the mayoral race and soon appointed Robert Moses as chairman to many important public authorities, one being the completion of the Triborough Bridge.

Moses was a sketchy guy and I still don't know what to think of him. His goals seemed to be aligned with the well being of New York City, but he made some questionable decisions. I learned a lot from the PBS special series, New York: A Documentary Film. In Episode 6, "The City of Tomorrow", they explore the significant years of 1929-1941 in New York City history. I loved seeing the video footage of feisty Fiorello La Guardia. The entire series is so thoughtfully put together and interesting. Definitely a great gift for any New Yorker! 

It just so happens I have an old New York Times clipping detailing the steps to finalizing it's construction. I don't have the whole article, it seems the article on the other side was the intended story to be saved, titled America's Past "Hard Times" Always Followed. An unknown person wrote "New York Times, Jan 24, 1932".

 

A Transcription from the legible parts of the article:

"...The height of the tower above the masonry will be 275 feet to the centre of the cables, or 315 feet above mean high water. Each tower will weigh 5,000 tons, of which 3,680 tons will be of silicon steel. As laid out, the cable bents for each anchorage weigh 1,200 tons, including cast sandles similar to those on the towers, and cast steel bases for distributing the load to the masonry. The job is to be done in 450 working days.

The cable anchorages for the Hell Gate span, on Ward's Island and at Astoria, Queens, have been finished and residents of the upper east side will soon see the start of construction of the Manhattan connection both in Manhattan and on Randall's Island... Foundations for the Manhattan link lift bridge will require an estimated $1,000,000 and for the Bronx Kills lift bridge will require an estimated $400,000. Foundations for the Queens approach will cost, it is believed, $1,500,000. So far two bond issues in connection with the bridge have been authorized, one for $3,000,000 and the other for $5,000,000.

The Triborough Bridge, according to Commissioner Goldman, will be the largest structure of it's kind in the United States. The main route, from Queens to the Bronx, will be 13,560 feet long and the Manhattan connection 4,150 feet. The Queens-Bronx section will open withe facilities to carry eight lanes of traffic, the crosstown connection six lanes...

...If a fee of 25 cents is charged for each of the expected 11,000,000 vehicles a year, the yield will be $2,750,000. 'The effect of the Triborough Bridge will be to rezone traffic in New York City,' Commissioner Goldman said. "It will enable Long Island motorists to go directly to the Bronx and to points north without traveling through Manhattan first."

'We estimate that it will relieve the Queensboro Bridge of 20 per cent of its traffic. The Williamsburg Bridge of 8 percent and the Brooklyn Bridge of 6 percent of its traffic. In short, the Triborough Bridge will be one of the finest improvements this city has ever had.'"

A mere 7 years later the Triborough Bridge was completely finished and open for motorists on July 11, 1936. I wonder how their stats matched up to their predictions. Seems like there would have been so many different factors, I don't know who they figured it all out. This change for the city most likely lead a greater number of families to move around the 5 boroughs during the end of the 1930's into the 1940's. I can't wait to see when the 1940 census data is released! Only 264 days until the scheduled release, April 1st or 2nd 2012.

Good book:

The Bridges of New York, by Sharon Reier, boasts many great images of the construction periods and discusses the instability of the political and economic systems challenging the growth of NYC.

Sunday
Jun052011

* sightseeing sundays: governers island NYC

Looking for a green sandy respite away from the concrete jungle of NYC? Take a peek at Governors Island! There has been such a buzz about this place! It is located just off shore of Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn and the bottom tip of Manhattan. Open for the season ONLY Friday 10-5, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday Holidays 10-7 through September 25, 2011. A lovely saturday afternoon I took a trip...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
May122011

* having lunch with some old friends in trinity cemetery 

On such a beautiful day as today was in NYC, it was impossible not to be outside. I found a beautiful green respite just steps away from Wall Street to welcome the warm sunny weather. And these "old friends"...

aren't really friends. But they could have been! I was in Trinity Cemetery. It was the perfect place to enjoy a sunny afternoon lunch. There were benches, stone steps, tables...plenty of seating options. No one was talking loudly on their cellphones. It was so peaceful. I almost feel like I'm giving up a really big secret here...it wasn't anything like Union Square or Madison Square Park during lunchtime on a beautiful day. It makes me so proud of our city and those who work so hard to preserve these delicate memorials. You're swarmed by tourists and the Wall Street hubbub as soon as you step out of the churchyard. The obvious respect New Yorkers and tourists pay to this cemetery is evident in it's welcoming and serene condition. A popular tourist attraction STEPS from Wall Street and it continues to be an area of peace and remembrance. As I read the tombstones- the history, names, and loving memories blocked out the entire city, I could have been in the middle of nowhere.

A picture I took of the cemetery 3 days after the Dec 2010 Christmas Blizzard...looks like a completely different place!

 

 

Despite the best efforts to preserve burial grounds and tombstones, mother nature rules all. A lot of the stones are from the 1700's and the inscriptions have been completely weathered away; snow, rain, hail, and wind have taken their toll on these precious historical artifacts.

For whatever reason this tombstone really caught my attention. Just a little snapshot left to capture of this memorial.

 

Some inscriptions and engravings have withheld the test of time, but for many all that is left is an anonymous blank slate.

This was my first cemetery lunch, and I have to say- I enjoyed it! Do you have an ancestor buried in Trinity Cemetery? You can search through recorded Trinity Cemetery burials on findagrave.com. I'm sure your ancestors would love a lunch date!

Monday
Mar282011

* i'm granting 3 wishes : i'll photograph your family's NYC past...

A few weeks ago I posted some "then and now" pictures of old school brooklyn from the NYPL digital gallery with my own pictures from 2011. I had so much fun doing this! I have been able to do this type of project with some of my family pictures and it was really amazing to see the transformations. For those of you who can't visit NYC, I want to help you connect your family pictures with their modern day counterpart. But there are only 3 wishes...the first 3 people to email me one of their original* Manhattan or Brooklyn Family picture will be granted 3 free current day pictures!

Click to read more ...