Bronx Bridges  Part II

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Second Avenue Bridge

The Second Avenue Bridge was built in 1885 by the Suburban Rapid Transit Company as a railroad bridge. it is 28.5 feet above high water, and gives a clear opening on each side of the draw of 103.7 feet. In 1887, by arrangement with the Park Board, a foot path was opened across it for the free use of the public. It is now used by the Manhattan Railway Company, and also the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company, which has a station at 129th Street. The total cost was $203,053.

Harlem, or Third Avenue Bridge

The new bridge, which is to replace the old one, is now in course of construction. The draw span when finished will have a total length of 290 feet, giving a clear opening for vessels of 102 feet on each side, and the bottom chord will be 24 feet above high-water line. It will have two sidewalks, each 9 feet wide; two roadways, 16 ft. 9 in. wide on each side for trucks, etc., and in the centre a space 17 ft. wide, giving room for a north and a south bound car track.

The northern approach will consist of a truss 117 feet long from the end of the draw span to the commencement of an open steel structure, supported on columns which will carry the roadway by an easy incline as far north as 134th street. From that point there will be a solid fill between granite walls until the grade of Third Avenue is reached at 135th Street. The grade from 135th Street to the Southern Boulevard will be 3 feet in 100 feet, and thence to the bridge 1.4 feet in 100 feet.

The southern approaches will be two in number; one running west along the northerly house line of 130th Street to Lexington Avenue, and the other following a horse-shoe curve to reduce the steepness of the incline, reaching the grade of Third Avenue on its easterly side at 128th Street. The grades of both these approaches will be 3 feet in 100 feet.

Strenuous efforts were made by the North Side Board of Trade and similar organizations to secure for this great structure a direct approach on Third Avenue, but without success. But sufficient attention was given to these efforts to secure the extension of the easterly approach from midway between Third and Second Avenues on 129th Street to 128th Street and its junction with Third Avenue; and also the widening of this approach to a 60 ft. roadway and one 10 ft. sidewalk on the east side, and the proposed addition of a 10 ft. sidewalk on the north side of the Lexington Avenue approach.

The efforts to secure the erection of an open work structure on the north side were successful, while those in behalf of an approach on the Southern Boulevard failed.

The contract for building this bridge and approaches was awarded to Mr. Isaac A. Hopper. it is expected that the bridge will be opened to travel about March 1, 1898. The estimated cost of the structure and approaches, exclusive of land values, is $1,400,000.

Fourth Avenue (Railroad) Bridge

The new bridge, which is a four-track structure is one of the few bridges in this country with that number of tracks placed side by side. it has a total width of 61 feet. it was opened to traffic over two tracks on January 17, 1897, and on four tracks September 20, 1897.

The raising of the tracks at the bridge to the required height involved a vast amount of construction both on the north and south sides. it is estimated that the total cost of the improvement was in the neighborhood of $3,000,000.

Madison Avenue Bridge

Madison Avenue Bridge was built under the direction of the Commissioners of Public Parks, and was completed in 1884. It connects 138th Street on the east with Madison Avenue on the west, and has a total length, including the approaches, of 1163 feet. The draw, when open, gives a clear channel, on each side, of 132 feet, and is 28 feet above high water line. The roadway is 22 feet wide, and the sidewalks each 8 feet wide. The flooring of the draw is of plank, and the roadway of the approaches of granite block pavement. The grades of the approaches are about 5 feet in 100 feet. It is crossed by the cars of the Union Electric Railway Company, and the Madison Avenue horse line, and is of great importance as a connecting link with Manhattan Island. The total cost was $492,295.

During the construction of the new Third Avenue Bridge, this structure has proved entirely inadequate to carry the traffic, and now that the avenues leading to it on the south side have been improved by modern paving, and 138th Street on the North Side is to be widened to 100 feet, the present bridge should be removed and replaced by a better one, having well paved roadways and easier approaches.

Seventh Avenue Bridge

In 1886, it was decided to build a viaduct from Washington Heights to connect with a bridge over the Harlem at 155th Street. Work was commenced on the viaduct in 1890, under the direction of the Department of Public Works, and it was opened to the public in 1893. It has a total length of 1500 feet, and crosses over the elevated railroad, with which it is connected by stairways. The roadway, 40 feet wide is paved with granite blocks laid in cement, and the sidewalks on each side, 10 feet wide, are also laid in cement. It was built at a cost of $739,000, one half the expense being borne by the property benefited, and the other by the city at large.

The bridge proper, was authorized by Chapter 207, Laws of 1890, which specifies that no surface railroad shall cross it. It was built by the Department of Public Parks, and is 731 feet long, being made up of a swing draw 400 feet long, a truss 225 feet long over the N.Y. Central & Hudson River R.R. Company's tracks, and a viaduct 106 feet long connecting the two. The draw span is 28 feet above high-water mark, and gives a clear channel of 165 feet on each side, when open. It weighs 2400 tons, and is the heaviest in the world. It is supported on a circular granite pier, built on a steel caisson, which rests on solid rock. it turns on 128 cast steel rollers arranged in two concentric rings and is opened or closed by a 75 horse-power engine in 1 1/2 minutes.

The flooring is of steel buckle plates, paved with asphalt, which gives a remarkably smooth and durable surface. The roadway has a width of 40 feet, and the sidewalks of 9 feet. There are two approaches on the North Side, one 1740 feet long, leading to Jerome Avenue, and the other 350 feet leading to Ogden Avenue. They are supported on granite foundation piers, and the roadways, etc., correspond in width and style of pavement with that of the bridge. The bridge and northern approaches were completed and opened to the public May 1st. 1895. The Total cost of the bridge was about $1,989,000.

New York and Putnam Bridge

The bridge of the N.Y. & Putnam R.R., which crosses the river about a quarter of a mile above the Seventh Avenue Bridge, was built about 1877. it is provided with a steel draw 300 feet long and 28 feet above high water, with openings 128 feet wide. it carries two railroad tracks, and a foot path for free public use. This cost of this bridge was about $200,000.

(Continue Part III)


Website: The History
Article Name: Bronx Bridges Part II
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: The Great North Side; or; Borough of the Bronx, New York, Anonymous; New York, Knickerbocker Press, 1891.
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