Friday, April 30, 2021

1903 Williamsburg Bridge over East River in New York City

(Bridge Hunter; Historic Bridges; HAER; Dave Frieder Photos3D Satellite)

This bridge carries 140,000 vehicles per day with eight lanes and 100,000 subway (J, M and Z lines) passengers using two tracks in the middle. It also has a walkway and bikeway. Around the turn of the 21st Century, it was practically rebuilt with a 15-year, $1b plan. [NYCroads]

HAER NY,31-NEYO,165--4, 1983
4. VIEW WITH BRIDGE IN FOREGROUND AND WORLD TRADE CENTER IN BACKGROUND - Williamsburg Bridge, Spanning East River at South Sixth Street between New York City & Brooklyn, New York County, NY
[This view also catches the other two bridges between Brooklyn and Manhattan: the 1909 Manhattan Bridge and the 1883 Brooklyn Bridge.]

Museum of the City of New York posted
The Williamsburg Bridge opened #onthisday in 1903. 🌉
It held the distinction as the longest suspension bridge span in the world until 1924.
📷 Arthur Vitols, Byron Company (New York, N.Y.), ca. 1908, Museum of the City of New York,
Bridges Now and Then shared

"Suspension bridge; steel towers; spans 1,600 feet between towers; total length, 7,200 feet; clearance for ships, 135 feet; double decked; 4 main cables 18 inches in diameter; cost $8 million.    The Williamsburg Bridge is the longest span suspension bridge over the East River, it's s span exceeding that of the Brooklyn Bridge by 4.5 feet." [HAER-data]


The Williamsburg Bridge's 1,600-foot main span was the longest in the world from 1903 until 1924 [when the Bear Mountain Bridge was opened]. With 40-foot deep stiffening trusses, it was the first suspension bridge over 1,000 feet to have steel towers....The four main suspension cables are 18.75 inches in diameter and each composed of over 10,000 wires. The Williamsburg Bridge originally carried four trolley lines, two elevated rail lines, four carriage lanes and two pedestrian walkways, making it amongst the most heavily loaded bridges ever built....The Williamsburg Bridge was the last major suspension bridge designed using the "elastic theory," and its exceptionally deep truss is a result of the approximations included in this theory. Substantial increases in suspension bridge spans would not be possible until the application of the "deflection theory" - first used on the nearby Manhattan Bridge. [asce]
Bridges Now and Then posted
A stereograph card titled "New East River Bridge, in course of construction, New York City, U.S.A.". (Library of Congress)
Danny Gligor: You mean exactly the Williamsburg Bridge?
Bridges Now and Then: Danny Gligor As it's called now, yes.

Dave Frieder commented on the above post
One of my favorites to Climb and Photograph! The FIRST, MAJOR all Steel suspension bridge with a Main Span over 1000 feet long. Engineer of design, Leffert Lefferts Buck. A view I made from the Upper Chord.

Since walking and bicycle riding were an important means of transportation during the horse & buggy days when the bridge was built, there always were walkways on top of the two support trusses. I have to agree with Historic Bridges that replacing the original decorative handrails with cages is a bummer. But to bring attention to them with a gaudy red paint is scandalous.
Geoff Hubbs Jun 2019 via Bridge Hunter, License: Released into public domain

Obviously, in the 1920s when the auto became the preferred means of transportation, they changed four of the six tracks to vehicular lanes.
Figure by Paul Phillipe Cret and Rudolphe Modjeski via NYCroads

I wish the street view driver had chosen the outer lanes. Nonetheless, we get a view of part of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. And we get a good view of truss members that a significantly heavy duty design. The subway tracks are to the left between the main trusses and a walkway is on top.
Street View

This view confirms that, unlike other suspension bridges, the stiffening truss is a through truss rather than a deck truss. This would allow a clearance requirement above the river to be achieved with shorter (i.e. cheaper) towers. And reduce the height of the approach bridges.
Street View

Here is a view that shows how the suspension cables come down along side the stiffening truss.
Street View

This bridge was the second one to cross the East River, and it started construction in 1896. The first bridge to cross the East River was, of course, the Brooklyn Bridge. Between 1852 and 1855, the eastern shore of the bridge was the town of Williamsburg. It, along with other neighborhoods, got absorbed in 1855 by Brooklyn. Brooklyn, in turn, became part of the NYC merger in 1898. The west side of the bridge cleared out the Corlears Hook district. "Corlears Hook once had the greatest concentration of shipbuilding businesses in the nation, and the shoreline was completely obscured with piers, ships, and vessels of all sorts. In the 1830s, it had become a notorious red-light district, with "ladies of the night" setting up shop in the neighborhood's saloons and cellars. (As popular legend would have it, the ladies of the Hook would give the oldest profession a new name: hookers.)" [BoweryBoysHistory]
Bridges Now and Then posted
New York, c. 1903. "East River from Brooklyn tower of Williamsburg Bridge." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative. Full sized photo in the comments. (Detroit Publishing Company/Shorpy)
Bridges Now and Then: Lots of details to see here.
James Torgeson: So much river traffic!
Bridges Now and Then posted
"Title: Looking under the great Williamsburg Bridge toward Brooklyn, N.Y." Stereograph, 1904, International View Co. (Library of Congress)
Dave Frieder: Years before additional supports were added to the Side Spans.

Dave Frieder commented on the above post
Probably NOT yet opened to Traffic. Bridge was in original configuration. Steel Cable covers, Original suspenders, no Saddle Housings and only one support per side Span. Bridge was dedicated and opened to traffic December 19th, 1903. Engineer of design, Leffert Lefferts Buck.
Bridges Now and Then posted
Walking on New York City's Williamsburg Bridge 1907. (Bowery)
Dave Frieder: No disgusting graffiti!
Bridges Now and Then posted

Dave Frieder commented on the above post
My view of the Tracks from the main cables.

Dave Frieder commented on the above post
One of my images when the Tracks were shut down.

I did not realize it was a lattice truss until I saw this view of the entire 40' deep truss.
Digitized by Google via Historic Bridges-Historical Text, p21

Note that the temporary foot walk to help with spinning the cable is made of wood.
Digitized by Google via Historic Bridges-Historical Text, p130

The foot walk made of wood is significant because it completely burned along with a lot of wood structures on top of the towers
Digitized by Google via Historic Bridges-Historical Text, p136
On Nov 10, 1902, a careless workman overturned a rivet stove in the tool-house at the top of the tower causing "the most beautiful and unique blaze ever witnessed hereabouts." The fire department could not fight a fierce blaze 300' above their heads so they had to let the fire burn itself out. 

Above the deck level, the towers slant inwards because the bottom of the tower straddles the truss whereas the top, which holds the cables, is in the plane of the truss.
Digitized by Google via Historic Bridges-Historical Text, p125

Here is where the south lanes pass through the west tower, looking backwards.
Street View

I later stumbled across an outside lanes view on the north side.
Street View

I was trying to figure out why I was seeing a cable on the outside of the outside lanes where the walkway approaches cross over to the top of the trusses at the end of the truss. Since the outside spans are not suspended from the cables, the cables don't remain in the plane of the truss. This probably helps spread the load on the anchorages.
Street View

By the late 20th Century, the bridge was falling apart. Several different plans were submitted. Most of them were to replace it with a cable stay bridge. Some of them had the new bridge being slid into place on giant Teflon plates. But NYCDOT decided that it was better to repair than replace. They developed a 15-year, $1b plan. "The project includes an overhaul of the bridge's four main cables, steel towers, stiffening trusses, and roadways." [NYCroads]

Bridges Now and Then posted
A 1988 proposal for a new Williamsburg Bridge to replace the present bridge. (NYSDOT)
Craig Coffey: The bridge was in real danger of failure at that point, it was so poorly maintained.
Jim Mmee: Craig Coffey yes and the Brooklyn bridge suffered as well.Around that time,maybe a little earlier, a cable on the Brooklyn bridge snapped, killing a pedestrian! Poor maintenance , but they blamed the pigeon droppings.
Dave Frieder: Jim Mmee That was a Diagonal Cable Stay that snapped.
Bill Campbell: Jim Mmee the acidic content of pigeon droppings indeed is a significant issue in such instances - though I’m not suggesting there wasn’t enough poor maintenance to blame. All four lower East River Bridges were in deplorable condition by the 80’s.
[There are several more comments about pigeons vs. maintenance.]

Dave Frieder commented on BN&T's post
I MUCH prefer the original structure. FIRST, MAJOR All Steel suspension bridge over 1000 feet long. Engineer of design, Leffert Lefferts Buck. Main Cables and original suspenders by John A. Roebling's Sons Inc.
[I wondered why they put those non-functional triangles on top of the cable-stay towers. I guess it was to pay homage to the original bridge.]

Bridges Now and Then posted
NYC's Williamsburg Bridge, 1901. (Found on ebay)
Dave Frieder: Before the Fire on the foot bridge.
Historic NYC posted
Approach from The Williamsburg Bridge onto Marcy Avenue. (1913)

Dmitriy Greblekin commented on the above post
and more than a century later

Jabari Caughman commented on the above post
Same view 110 years later...

1904 W&LE/N&W/P&WV/Wabash Bridge over Ohio River at Mingo Junction, OH

(Bridge Hunter; Historic Bridges; 3D Satellite)

P&WV = Pittsburgh & West Virginia

"The United States enjoyed the distinction of having the world's longest cantilever truss span for a short time, thanks to this record-breaking bridge, which is an extremely early example of a monumental-sized cantilever truss bridge" [Historic Bridges]

This was built as part of the project by the Wabash Railroad to gain access to the Pittsburgh market. This project also included a tunnel and bridge in Pittsburgh.

Street View

I'm glad to see that they have left the decorative finals on top of the towers.
Street View

Bridge Hunter

I count 24 panels in the navigation span.
Historic Bridges

C Hanchey FlickrLicense: Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC) 

I include a construction photo of the Wabash bridge in Pittsburgh because this bridge would have been built the same way.
Photographer unknown via Bridge Hunter
Mtnclimberjoe Rail Photography posted
A trio of SD40's lead Wheeling & Lake Erie train 218 as it crosses over the Ohio River bridge into Rockdale, West Virginia from Mingo Junction, Ohio. This massive bridge was built in 1904 by the American Bridge Company and at the time was the world's longest cantilever truss bridge. It's distinct style includes decorative finials on top of the two main towers.
WLE Rook Subdivision
Rockdale, WV
WLE 218 (Manifest; Brewster, OH to Rook, PA)
WE 6991 SD40-2 Ex. CITX 3068, GCFX 3068, GTW 5929 Blt. 1970
WE 6348 SD40-2 Ex. EMDX 6348, SOO 6348, MILW 175 Blt. 1973
WE 6354 SD40-2 Ex. AWVR 1206, AWVR 9705, KCS 665 Blt. 1974

This bridge is in the background of this steel plant photo.
JSW via DeBruler

Thursday, April 29, 2021

1924 US-6,202 Bear Mountain (Purple Heart Veterans) Bridge over Hudson River

(Bridge Hunter; Historic BridgesDave Frieder PhotosSatellite)

"Bear Mountain Bridge was the first vehicular river crossing between New York City and Albany. At the time it was built, it was also the longest suspension bridge in the world and the first suspended bridge to have a concrete deck."  The name was changed to Purple Heart Veterans in 2018. Because the land in the area is granite, the piers and anchors were easy to build. However, the road to the east side was hard to build. 70% of the material had to be drilled and blasted. And care had to be exercised so that none of that material fell on the NYC tracks that were below the road. [hbhv, nysba has the same text so I don't know which is the true source of the material.]

The largest span is 1,632' and it is 2,258' long. It was rehabilitated in 1977. [Bridge Hunter]

That is Bear Mountain in the background.
LC-HS503- 757
Below Bear Mountain bridge, Appalachian Trail, [New York]

LC-G613- 60322
Bear Mountain bridge.

Adam Kuczynski posted
Bear Mountain, New York.
[Again, Bear Mountain is in the background of this photo. The train is on the CSX Popolopen Creek Bridge.]

Ian Martin Flickr via Bridge Hunter-Popolopen
Q434 shows up at Popolopen Creek under a cloud on an otherwise-sunny afternoon, led by CSX 7899 and 5306.

The east shore has its own "mountain," which is called Anthony's Nose.
NYCroads (2004 photo by C.C. Slater.)
"Construction of the bridge began in March 1923. The anchorages that hold the two main steel cables were dug manually out of solid rock at a rate of approximately eight feet per week. The west anchorage was dug 110 feet into the rock, and the east anchorage 90 feet into the rock. Once the anchorages were completed in October 1923, work began on the two 351-foot-tall towers. The towers were completed in April 1924....When it opened, the Bear Mountain Bridge had the longest main suspension span in the world, surpassing that of the Williamsburg Bridge by 32 feet. It held its title for only two years, giving it up to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge across the Delaware River in Philadelphia in 1926."

River Rail Photo posted
Take A Hike. Looking down from the top on Anthony's Nose in the Town of Cortlandt, New York on Friday, May 8, 2015 gives the "bird's eye view" of CSX 3013 (ES44AC-H) leading an intermodal train over Popolopen Creek in Fort Montgomery, New York. There are four bridges in pic (clockwise) - Popolopen Arch Bridge (Route 9W/road), Poplopen Suspension Bridge (pedestrian), Popolopen Creek Trestle (railroad) and the Bear Mountain Bridge (road). If you want to go for a hike here on a summer weekend, get up early - the limited parking fills up very fast.
[My notes for the three Popolopen Creek bridges are here.]

"Each cable was fabricated by John A. Roebling & Sons, Company, is 18 inches (46 cm) in diameter, has a length of 2,600 feet (792 m), and is composed of 7,452 individual wires. The main cables are supported by 355-foot (108 m) high steel towers." [asce, I included the tower height because it was slightly different.]

The photo below shows how tricky it was to build a road on the side of Anthony's Nose. Of the $6m spent on the bridge project, $2m was spent building this access road from Peekskill, NY. [asce]
[The deck is over 150' above the Hudson River.]
Images of Rockland County, The Historical Society of Rockland County. "Bear Mountain Bridge." New York Heritage Digital Collections Accessed Apr 29, 2021.

Because the state charter to build the bridge required that it be built in three years, the designers omitted covering the towers with masonry to save time. The locals thought the spindly steel towers were ugly. So the designers added an arch in the base of each tower to give it a tunnel-like appearance.
Street View

The last suspension bridge I investigated, the Dresden Suspension Bridge, was the first time that I saw a bridge with a separate anchor and abutment. This bridge also has that design.
Street View

The Toll House is also rather historic.
Street View
Note the bridge in the background.
River Rail Photo posted
Spirt Of Our Veterans. A pleasant surprise on the morning of Wednesday, July 21, 2021 brought CSX 1776 (ES44AC-H) in the lead of CSXT Q010-20 across Doodletown Bight near Iona Island, New York. This unit is one of 3 "Spirit" units painted by CSX to appreciate the work and committment of public service and emergency workers. The Bear Mountain Bridge crosses the Hudson River in the background.

Historic Bridges, another view

The foreground looks through the beams of the travelling gantry that lifted the steel for the deck truss from barges on the river.
Historic Bridges and hbhv-photos

This was obviously taken from the top of the western tower while they were spinning the cables. In the right middle of the photo, I think we see a crane working on the east road that was carved out of the hillside.

Bridges Now and Then posted
New York's Bear Mountain Bridge, c. 1924. (HudsonValley)

Dave Frieder commented on the above post
Similar to Williamsburgh Bridge as the Side Spans are not suspended.

Arminio Thomas commented on the above post

Prussia Frank posted
Bear Mountain Hudson Bridge NY
[A suggestion by Facebook that was actually of interest.]
I kept skipping this photo in my news feed until I finally noticed the suspension bridge and Bear Mountain in the background. This is the trestle that is in the foreground.
River Rail Photo posted
The Real Last Run. Metropolitan Transportation Authority - MTA NYCT Subway Budd built R-32s 3879, 3878, 3929 and 3928 were part of a fleet that made its last revenue trip on January 9, 2022, ending 58 years of service on the system. These cars have had most of their mechanical components removed as well as their trucks, and are placed on FIC Equipment Corp flat cars to be scrapped. They are seen on CSX's River Sub on train Q434 on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 16, 2022 crossing Doodletown Bight near Iona Island, New York.
More on the Farewell To The R-32s -
James Churchill: 58 years of service? Remember that the next time some bus or bus rapid transit"expert" tells you how much cheaper buses are and a dozen or so cars can be run by one operator and convey hundreds of passengers.
[The graffiti was done after they left the NYCT property.]
Neil Hourihan: Not destined to be artificial reefs?
Adam Moreira: Stainless steel cars didn’t lend themselves well to be reefs as they just crumpled on the sea floor. The LAHT carbon steel cars have given rise to new ecosystems.

Two of six photos posted by Curtis Tate with the comment: "The River Line, at Newburgh and Fort Montgomery, New York, September 2005."

Dave Blaze Rail Photography posted
B741 At Bear Mountain
I spent a couple nights in Newburgh for a getaway for my GFs birthday (at her request!) and managed to snag a few trains between other adventures, including finally making it to the Bear Mountain area for the first time.  I know, I know...shameful that I'd never shot here at one of the most scenic, busy, and easily accessible mainlines in the Northeast despite only being 3 hrs from home! 
CSXT's River Sub (ex Conrail, Penn Central, New York Central, nee West Shore) dates from 1883 in this area and despite being a relative latecomer its mainline up the west bank of the Hudson has only grown in importance over the decades as traffic patterns have shifted.  Today this line between northern New Jersey and the Albany area is by far the busiest north south route in the northeast, while conversely virtually the entirety of the West Shore's route to Buffalo along the south side of the Mohawk River has long been abandoned. 
CSXT train B741 (loaded ethanol from the Union Pacific in Proviso to Conrail's Oak Island yard) is at MP 41.5 as it crosses the thousand foot long curved trestle over Doodletown Bight approaching Iona Island behind a pair of more than quarter century old AC4400CWs.  
Rising beyond is the Bear Mountain Bridge.  When it opened a century ago it was the longest suspension bridge in the world spanning 2255 ft across the Hudson River and 155 ft above the water line and with its towers reaching another 205 ft skyward!  Originally a private toll road it has been property of the state of New York since 1940.  
The bridge has a couple railroad connections I found interesting as well.  The original Hudson Highland Suspension Bridge as chartered in 1868 was originally planned to be a railroad bridge which if built would have been the farthest south rail crossing of the river. Despite raising capital, completing engineering work and even starting excavation of the anchor pits it never came to fruition and the second charter finally expired nearly a half century after the first.  
When the state then authorized the private highway bridge instead in 1922 one of the directors of the new company was E. Roland Harriman of the famous banking company who was the youngest son of legendary Union Pacific and Southern Pacific president E. H. Harriman who purchased the UP out of bankruptcy in 1898 and then acquired the SP in 1901.  His leadership until is death in 1909 turned them into modern economic and corporate powerhouses that would be hugely influential throughout the 20th century leaving a legacy that carries on to railroading today....but I digress! 
Bear Mountain State Park
Stony Point, New York
Saturday February 24, 2024

safe_image for Governor Hochul Announces Kickoff of Bear Mountain Bridge Centennial Celebrations
"The Bear Mountain Bridge was dedicated on November 26, 1924. It was a groundbreaking engineering  achievement for its time, being the first vehicular bridge over the  Hudson River south of Albany and the first suspension bridge with a  concrete deck. For a brief period, it also held the title of "bridge with the longest suspended central span in the world." Many consider the innovations with the Bear Mountain Bridge to have spurred a boom in bridge building in New York State and the entire country in the years  following."

A drone video of the bridge, but I did not register to view it.