The 1135-metre-long Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge connects the neighbourhood of Long Island City in the borough of Queens with Manhattan, passing over Roosevelt Island. Until it was surpassed by the Quebec Bridge in 1917, the span between Manhattan and Roosevelt Island was the longest cantilever span in North America. The bridge was featured in the iconic scene of Woody Allen’s 1979 film “Manhattan”.
The upper level of the bridge has four lanes of automobile traffic and provides an excellent view of the bridge’s cantilever truss structure and the New York skyline. The lower level has five vehicular lanes, the inner four for automobile traffic and the southern outer lane for automobile traffic as well.
Being an iconic landmark, the bridge appears in a variety of different works of fiction, film and TV productions. The most famous ones include Woody Allen’s “Manhattan”, “The Great Gatsby” by F. S. Fitzgerald, 2002 film “Spiderman” and 2012 Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises”.
The Queensboro Bridge is a double cantilever bridge, as it has two cantilever spans, one over the channel on each side of Roosevelt Island. The bridge does not have suspended spans, so the cantilever arm from each side reaches to the midpoint of the span.
Serious proposals for a bridge linking Manhattan to Long Island City were first made as early as 1838. The bridge opened to the public on March 30, 1909, having cost about $18 million and 50 lives. A ceremonial grand opening was held on June 12, 1909.
Attempts to finance a bridge were made by a private company beginning in 1867. However, these efforts never came to fruition and the company went bankrupt in the 1890s. Successful plans finally came about in 1903 under the city’s new Department of Bridges. Construction soon began, but it would take until 1909 for the bridge to be completed due to delays caused by the collapse of an incomplete span during a windstorm and by labour unrest (including an attempt to dynamite one span). After years of decay and corrosion, an extensive renovation of the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge was begun in 1987 and is still in progress, having cost over $300 million so far.