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Sep 21, 2009

The Manhattan Bridge


Youngest of East River Bridges Celebrates Centennial on Sunday, October 4th

(New York, NY) – September 18, 2009 – The Manhattan Bridge, the youngest of the four East River Bridges, will celebrate its 100th birthday on Sunday October 4th, the New York City Bridge Centennial Commission announced today. The celebration, capped by a firework display by Grucci of NY that night, will include a parade of historic vehicles, walking and bike tours, and public discussions on the history and construction of the bridge.

While the youngest of the East River Bridges, the Manhattan Bridge has long experienced problems of aging due to its design. Essentially “under built,” the 1,470 foot suspension bridge consists of four main cables draped over two, sleek piers. The designer, Leon Moisseiff, assumed that the inherent structure of suspension bridges made them stronger and decided as a result not to use stiffening trusses like those used, for example, on the Williamsburg Bridge (opened in 1903).

The Manhattan Bridge

The problem was compounded because Moisseiff placed the subway and streetcar lines – the streetcar tracks were replaced with auto lanes in the 1940s – on the outer edges of the roadway. The heavy moving loads of the trains created a twisting strain on the lightly reinforced deck. Combined with lax maintenance over the years, major reconstruction was required beginning in the 1980s and continuing until 2007, with the rehabilitation of the lower roadway.

Moisseiff, who became a pioneer in the construction of all steel bridges, utilized a similar design for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington State. Four months after the bridge opened in 1940, a minor windstorm caused it to collapse. A video of the collapse, which is still used in engineering, architecture and physics courses today, shows that a twisting motion added to the stress of longitudinal waves along the span.

“In many ways, more than the other East River Bridges, the Manhattan Bridges shows that design, construction and maintenance are human practices that require review and care,” said Sam Schwartz, President of the New York City Bridge Centennial Commission. “The design of the structure and long periods of neglected maintenance created what could have been an engineering tragedy in New York. Fortunately, the bridge has since been fortified, and a regular maintenance routine has returned it to good condition.”

While the Manhattan Bridge has never been celebrated the way the Brooklyn Bridge (1883) to the south has, or captured in song like the Queensboro Bridge (1909) has, it does make a significant public art statement along the Manhattan entranceway. A stone archway styled after the Porte St. Denis in Paris was designed by Carrere and Hastings, the architectural firm that designed the New York Public Library. The Brooklyn approach, which included two statues by Daniel Chester French – allegorical figures of Brooklyn and Manhattan – was dismantled in the 1960s to facilitate traffic. They are now on display in the Brooklyn Museum.

Another traffic enhancement, the Lower Manhattan Expressway, which was proposed by Robert Moses in the early 1960s, would have utilized the Manhattan Bridge as a northern spur connecting the proposed expressway to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. The proposal was defeated, but a portion of the unfinished highway still exists today. As such, the Manhattan Bridge continues to connect into the local street system, Canal Street in Manhattan and Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. In addition to the vehicular roadways, the Manhattan Bridge continues to provide subway service (N, Q, B and D lines) and has a pedestrian walkway and dedicated bike path.

Manhattan Bridge New York Manhattan Bridge New York Manhattan Bridge New York

About the NYC Bridge Centennial Commission

In the spring of 2007, a group of civic-minded individuals realized that several of New York City’s bridges were approaching their 100th anniversary. In order to commemorate the significance of these magnificent spans and their role in making New York City the greatest metropolis in the world, the group formed the NYC Bridge Centennial Commission, a 501 (c) 3 corporation.

The aim of the Commission is to promote the 100th year anniversary of six historic New York City bridges, to educate the public about the bridges’ role in the life of the city, to encourage respect for the history of New York City, to heighten the public’s awareness of the City’s infrastructure and the need to maintain it, and to stimulate the interest of the public in celebrating the centennial of these six bridges.

Manhattan Bridge Centennial Celebration information received 210909

Manhattan Bridge Centennial Events

The Week of October 3 – 11, 2009

WHAT: Walking Tour led by Adrienne Onofri over the Manhattan Bridge
to Vinegar Hill and DUMBO

WHEN: October 3
2 PM – 4 PM

WHERE: Southwest Corner of Canal and Bowery, Manhattan

WHAT: P.S. 124 2nd Graders’ Bridge Art – Exhibit

WHEN: October 1 – October 31
Mon. to Thurs. 10-8; Fri. & Sat. 10-5.; Sun. 12-5

WHERE: Seward Park Library Branch, 192 E. Broadway, Manhattan

WHAT: Exhibit of Historic NYC Bridges Photographs

WHEN: October 1 – October 31
Mon – Fri 10 AM – 4 PM

WHERE: Manhattan Borough President’s Conference Room
Municipal Building, 1 Centre Street
19th Floor South, Manhattan

Sunday, October 4, 2009

7:15 AM Bike Tour led by Michael Miscione which will start on the steps of Borough Hall in Brooklyn and will join up with Bridge parade at 9 AM
9:00 – 11 AM Centennial Ceremonial Parade By Invitation Only with Manhattan and Brooklyn Borough Presidents and other dignitaries, featuring:
Vintage Automobiles
NY Chinese School Marching Band, courtesy of Principal Wong
US Merchant Marine Academy Fanfare Trumpeters
FDNY Fireboat multi-color salute

Noon Reception with refreshments in Confucius Plaza
Provided by Chinese Community Organizations
33 Bowery, Manhattan

2 PM Dedication of Manhattan Bridge Centennial Time Capsule
At Confucius Plaza
33 Bowery, Manhattan

7:00 PM FIREWORKS by The GRUCCIS of New York! – East River Park Amphitheatre,
north of Manhattan Bridge.
Manhattan School of Music Brass Quintet will perform.
Entrance to park at Jackson & Cherry Streets, Manhattan

Monday, October 5, 2009

6:30 PM Lecture – “Miss Manhattan, Miss Brooklyn and their creator, Daniel Chester French” Brian Tolle, sculptor, and Karen Lemmey, Metropolitan Museum of Art Historian
NYU-Poly, 5 MetroTech Center, Main Floor, Brooklyn

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

6:30 PM “The Manhattan Bridge – History, Construction & Safety”
Michael Miscione, Manhattan Borough Historian, Henry Perahia, Deputy Commissioner NYC Department of Transportation & Sam Schwartz, PE
NYU-Poly, 5 MetroTech Center, Main Floor, Brooklyn

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

6:30 PM Lecture – “Bridges of New York” by Phil Eng, NY State Department of Transportation
Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of NY, Conference Room
62 Mott Street, Manhattan

6:30 PM “Manhattan Bridge in Major Motion Pictures”
Pace University, Multi-Purpose Room at 1 Pace Plaza,
Entrance location at Spruce Street, Manhattan

Thursday, October 8, 2009

2 PM Lecture – “Engineering, Construction and History of the Manhattan Bridge” by Dave Frieder Brooklyn Historical Society, 128 Pierpont Street, Brooklyn $6 admission; free to members of the Brooklyn Historical Society

6 PM “Art Along the Way: Masstraniscope with Artist Bill Brand”
Talk and ride-by to view artwork in unused Myrtle Avenue Subway Station 2 hour event. Transit Museum, Boerum Place & Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn
$5 admission

Friday, October 9, 2009

6:30 PM Panel Discussion on the Manhattan Bridge by Robert Olmsted, ASCE, Michael Miscione, Manhattan Borough Historian, Sam Schwartz, PE and Jim Rasenberger, author historian panelists, Sewell Chan, Reporter for the New York Times moderator
NYU-Poly, 5 MetroTech Center, Main Floor, Brooklyn

6:30 PM Reception by Manhattan Borough President for Exhibit of Historic Photographs Municipal Building, 1 Centre Street, 19th floor Conference Room, Manhattan

Saturday, October 10, 2009

10 AM Bike Tour Sponsored by Transportation Alternatives led by Noah Budnick
90 Minute Tour.
Grand and Allen Streets, at redesigned Allen St. Mall, Manhattan

Sunday, October 11, 2009

10 AM Walking Tour with Bernie Ente and David Frieder – in conjunction with Open House New York
Canal & Bowery SW corner, Manhattan walk over bridge & this part of tour will end at York St. Station F Train. 2 hour tour.
Those wishing to continue on to the Brooklyn Bridge Park to observe the Manhattan Bridge. Tour will conclude at 1 PM.

Noon “Losing the Bridge:” – Walking Tour with Sam Schwartz, P.E.
In conjunction with Open House New York
90 minute tour. Start at Confucius Plaza, 33 Bowery, Manhattan

1:30 PM Transit Museum Workshop for Children “Bridge City: Manhattan Bridge Turns 100” Boerum Place & Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn Free Admission for Members. $3 Children & $5 Adults.

Location: The Manhattan Bridge, New York City, USA

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