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March 30: The Queensboro Bridge

March 30, 2014
473px-59thstbridge2007Gustav Lindenthal’s Queensboro Bridge, the first significant double-decker bridge in America, opened for traffic on this date in 1909. Also known as the 59th Street Bridge (and recently named to honor the late New York mayor Edward I. Koch), the Queensboro, which charges no tolls, connects Manhattan to Queens with a double-cantilevered design. It cost $18 million — and fifty workers’ lives — to construct. In 2012, its 27-year renovation was completed at a cost of $300 million. Originally, the bridge’s top level contained two pedestrian walkways and two elevated subway tracks, and there was a trolley stop in the middle of the bridge, from which passengers could descend to Roosevelt Island. The Austrian-born Lindenthal (1850-1935), a self-taught Jewish civil engineer who helped introduce steel and reinforced concrete to bridge-building, also created New York’s Hell Gate Bridge, among many other structures in the U.S. 469px-GustavLindenthal_1909“The golden insignia of honor of the Austrian Republic was conferred upon Gustav Lindenthal. American Jewish engineer, builder of many American bridges, by Michael Hainisch, President of the Republic.” —Jewish Telegraphic Agency, June 13, 1926